News of former speakers: Alex Tizon

Alex Tizon

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Alex Tizon, speaker at 2011 and 2012 editions of The Power of Storytelling, has recently published his memoir, Big Little Man: In Search of my Asian Self, a personal story about race and manhood.

When he travelled to Romania for the second time, in 2012, he had just finished the manuscript. In his keynote, Telling Your Own Story, he spoke about the process and difficulties of writing a memoir, and offered three pieces of advice:

  1. My first tip, if you have never written a personal history or memoir, is to get your hands on the memoirs that moved you and to study them for a sense of what’s possible.
  2. And then my second tip is to forget them completely. Absorb what you can but then forget them. If you don’t, you might find yourself trying to emulate the writers you’ve been reading. That could prevent you from telling your story in your own way. One of the secrets of storytelling is finding your own way to tell the story. There’s a certain point when you have to say to yourself, “This is the story I have to tell, this is the way I tell it and come what may, come what may.”
  3. If you are thinking about writing a personal history or a memoir, it would serve your process if you knew early on what was the theme you were working with. I try to make things simple in my own head, so I reduce themes to one word. Things like love, loss, betrayal.

Read the entire transcript of his 2012 keynote and an excerpt from his book. You can order it here.

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