The "so what?" is emphasized in the memoir genre (why should I care? why should others care?)... answering this question gives purpose and authority... writing the memoir shouldn't fulfill one's ego... stories should be written for the sake of the story not other ulterior motives (such as revenge, to get attention, etc.)...
Pick mentors carefully!
"It takes time to learn"-- there's a negative attitude from non-professional writers undermining the value of writing and writers... they often think that since WORDS are ubiquitous and used everyday (especially when speaking), everybody can write... everybody does have the potential to write, BUT not everybody will have the perseverance to write for a living... I'm starting to realize why writers are often called "word smiths" because writers shape and create using words like sculptors. Anybody with hands can pick up a hammer or something in order to start beating something to a pulp But not everybody can pick up that hammer or chisel and create a work of art like David.
Learning process- I liked how Barrington mentioned the difference between saying one's a writer and one's an apprentice writer. The former usually received a condescending response like, "Oh you're a writer, I'm a neuro-scientist. I've been planning to writer my biography ever since gradeschool.... Oh you're writing your memoir, I thought only famous people write their memoir? Who's going to recognize your name?"
Don't worry about publishers... write memoir first, then start searching...
Ideas- record dreams (in the past, I've had interesting and powerful dreams, but they're so scary [my heart racing]... that I purposefully did not record them because I wanted to forget about them), have a writing notebook, don't make excuses, just WRITE!, learn from others (read their memoirs)
Why should people/you care? Identification/connection: "Moments in my life might resonate with moments in theirs."
Memoirs have forms (just because they're personal, it doesn't mean that they're easy to do)
Think structure and organization, similar to Fiction (form serves functions)... arrangements, selectivity (SIGNIFICANT details), clarity, audience friendly, high and low moments, a sense of completion/closing/middle/beginning... like a fragmented essay, like a personal-not-private narrative.... could have parallels... can be as straight-cut as recall and last paragraph analysis/musing... since it's a process learn when to ADAPT... no magic formula/ page length... differing perspective between child and adult... some sense of resolution...
Truth: exact truth and emotional truth (other truths)- Memory "is not a record of the past but the evolving myth of understanding the psyche spins from its engagement with the world" (not historical facts) but if you're going to use historical facts, double-check and make sure you're citing the facts correctly.
Different perspective ROCKs! The way you recall events will be different from others BUT it doesn't mean it's not true (the difference is okay-- you're the expert of YOUR life)
Telling the truth is hard... it has consequences: Pain (of reliving sad moments), being ostracized, betraying other's trust (revealing family secrets), recognizing the past as something not "romanticized"... be responsible with your words
advantages- learning from others, speaking on behalf of the voiceless, enjoyable- seeingone's writing grow like one's own children...
HUMOR/irony can engage (tone/ voice's authority)... think imaginative recreation of the past... be transparent with your readers (let them know you're exploring instead of coming-off as a whiner or "know-it-all"... process/journey...
Memoir is a blend of truth and art. Not necessarily scientifically or historically true, but a true experience/moment nonetheless, and art, something "made", to make... to write to show "a" truth (factual/emotional etc.). Writing is NOT just self-expression; it also shapes culture: "Our words make the world."
Memoir employing fiction writing techniques (also think cinema!) to highlight a truth:
Scene- close-up, immediate, an instance, slow down, SHOWs, dialogues (essence of what the person would say, doesn't have to be verbatim, But must stay truthful to the character's personality- select... only use plain attributes if speaker is not clear, avoid descriptive attribute (she mused, she snapped, etc.)--- look hard for the HEART of what actually happened...
Summary- long shot, great distance, covers a lot of time, can be enriching with details
Musing- can be clear-cut in the end, or interjected throughout, embedded--- whatever you prefer... Insights, speculations, questions, purpose, revelations, discoveries: "the essence of memoir is 'the track of a person's thoughts struggling to achieve some understanding of a problem.'"
Note your weakness and strengths in order to improve... YOu're the director!
Moving around in time: There has to be a "now" (implicit/explicit) and a "then"... the now ANCHORS readers so readers can have a starting point... "now" clarifies for the reader your struggle/ your explorations etc.... shows "on-going" nature of inquiry/self explorations
Past- retrospective, not as limited as the present
present- immediacy, limited (in the sense of clear sentence constructions)
Practice both tense separately to master!
...Posted by Michael Diezmos at July 27, 2008 8:59 PM