Yesterday I returned to my memoir to give it a face-lift. With my pre-quel novel rewrite off to the publisher for yet another looksee, it is time to get back to the other book manuscript-in-the-works.
I’m taking a new angle to it and have already rewritten the Prelude beginning and the start of Chapter 1. It is more edgy and suspenseful to begin with, although I will keep the poignancy, etc. throughout the memoir. However, nothing is sacrosanct as far as rewriting it is concerned.
Sometimes you have to take your writing by its horns and turn it around. With memoirs that happens often for various reasons: you want to focus in another area, family flak, or you just want to rev up the writing and interest.
My other motivation is I’m preparing to teach a one-day Memoir Writing Workshop in Toronto, Saturday, February 22. Previously (I sound like a TV show here), I’ve taught hour and a half Memoir Writing Workshops at Toronto Public Library branches or six half day session Memoir Writing Courses through my East End Writers’ Group.
This one will combine the two. The blurb goes like this:
Getting your Memoir off the Ground:
Presented by the East End Writers’ Group
Always wanted to write your family’s story or your story but need some motivation and guidance? Sharon A. Crawford, who conducts Memoir Writing workshops for the Toronto Public Library, will teach this one-day expanded workshop on Memoir Writing. After a brief review of kick-starting your memoir using the senses, this hands-on workshop takes the writer into the nitty-gritty of writing the memoir. You will learn how to organize your memoir’s content, do research and work it into your memoir, deal with family flak, and not only start writing your memoir, but write an actual chapter and have it critiqued. Handouts provided. Bring photos and other memorabilia, pen and paper or the electronic equivalent.
What does that tell the memoir writer? Besides, it is not a piece-of-cake one- time shot. Nor is it all creativity.
You have to be organized
You can’t just sit down and write or you will be all over the place. You need to decide just what exactly you want to focus your memoir on and write that down, then do a chapter/subject outline, then…
You have to do research
Our memories aren’t 100 per cent. Although you are telling your story, you won’t remember everything going on for each segment of your life back then. And if back then covers your childhood, you certainly have a different perspective then from now. As a child you probably didn’t know much about the issues surrounding what went on in your life. For example, if you are writing about when your parents were divorced, what were the divorce laws then? You will even have do some digging for some of your family background. Family trees, relatives, particularly of the senior variety, and old family photos can be most helpful here. These conjure up all sorts of necessary research, which can be interesting in itself.
And of course, with your research, you also need to be organized. You don’t want to suffer from researchitis (over research with tons of paper and electronic files in your possession).
So, you can see that writing your memoir requires using both the left side of your brain (logical, analytical) and right side (creative).
We’ll cover a little bit of the creative side in the next post. Meantime, if you are in the Toronto, Ontario, Canada area and are interested in my workshop, you can check out the full details on my website at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/SpeakersBureau.html
Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes