Guest Blog: Stephanie Urdang on the Differences between Writing Her Own Memoir, and Writing Someone Else’s Memoir


My memoir covering my years working in the anti-apartheid movement, and my writing about Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau, is now out, and on my desk as I write. While I am very happy about that, I have little reprieve. While I waited and worried about finding a publishing home for Mapping My Way Home: Activism, Nostalgia, and the Downfall of Apartheid South Africa my writing fingers got antsy. Why not start another book while waiting, I thought, and thoughts have a way of becoming plans and then being transformed into action.  I met Gustave Mukurarinda in Rwanda twelve years ago when I visited in connection with my project that supported women who were raped during the 1994 genocide and, as a result, were living with AIDS.  We talked about co-authoring a book about his amazing story of survival when he was just eleven.  "We’ll start next year, Gustave", I would say, "When I have finished my memoir."  Well the ‘next years’ came and they went.  I wasn't working full time on it and it took me many drafts to get to where I felt it was ready for exposure to the air.  When ‘next year’ finally became this year and this month, I was finally free to start working with Gustave while waiting to see if a publisher would be interested.  I love working with him.  He tells stories with great verve, his memory is remarkable, and, as I relate in the contribution to Lisa's blog below, we have a working relationship based on trust and friendship.  It is very satisfying. 

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"It took me about ten years – but who’s counting – to complete my memoir, Mapping My Way Home. It is taking me about one year to write a book with a survivor of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, who was eleven at the time." read more