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Only Child teaching Memoir Writing Course

A week from today, I start teaching my Sharing Your Stories: Introduction to Memoir Writing Course at the Toronto Reference Library. For four Tuesday afternoons in April, the 20 participants and I will share some of our personal stories, share the joys and roadblocks we are encountering to even get started writing. I will share how to actually get on your butt (at the computer) and get going at writing your story.

I taught this course last year at another library branch, and many short workshops on Kick-starting Your Memoir. Yes, I have written (and rewritten) a memoir . It has not been published yet, but it has been pitched a few years ago. I got sidetracked because I started getting my mystery fiction published in 2012, but have plans to do some more rewriting (and change the title) of my memoir. Meantime, I pull short excerpts from my memoir and rewrite them with more text pertinent to short or longish memoir pieces for print and online magazines. And I teach memoir writing.

We can all (participants and instructor) learn from each other. As this course is full and not everyone reading this blog lives in the Toronto, Ontario area, I plan to post snippets from each session in the next four or five blog posts. That way I can share some information and suggestions with readers of this blog. After all, one of the original criteria of this blog is the memoir aspect. And I know I have deviated somewhat into posts about weather, religion, gardens, seniors, my parents – well even those are related to being an only child growing up Catholic in the 1950s and early 1960s, the only child of middle-age parents. Our past has a lot to do with our future. Of course, we can make changes, if we choose to do so.

And posting some info here avoids carting around a bunch of handouts. Although I use Power Point for part of the first two sessions, it is still hard copy and a lot of dialogue. Which might be appropriate for a course on writing about the past.

Today, I will just add the overall information about what I plan to cover in this course.

First the blurb used:

Always wanted to write your family’s story or your story but need motivation and guidance? Author, editor and writing instructor, Sharon A. Crawford will get you writing your story. Using prompts such as the six senses to kick-start your memory, sharing your stories, looking at published memoirs, and doing fun exercises, these four hands-on sessions will take you into the nitty-gritty of writing the memoir.

Broken down briefly (for now), sessions will be:

Session 1 – Getting started – often the big bugaboo. And often it is because we can’t decide what to write about. So, we will get some ideas and tools on this and do some writing exercises. Lots of discussion as well.

Session 2 – Research and Writing Your Memoir Beginning:

It’s not all online searching. We must not forget the “rellies” (as a friend calls her relatives). Dialogue, dialogue as well as documents, documents. Again exercises, including writing a draft memoir beginning and sharing our stories.

Session 3 – It’s all about Form and Using Fiction Tools to Write Memoir

Memoir is written in many forms, but the bottom lines are: they read like fiction, but are not fiction. Again lots of discussion back and forth and writing exercises.

Session 4 -Using Fiction Tools to Write Memoir (continued), Truth or Dare, Q and A

The actual memoir writing (and I only promise to get everyone starting their memoir) takes more than one session. In fact a whole six to eight week course would be more realistic and then you would have to write some more. And rewrite and rewrite. So we will continue with this, including writing and sharing our stories. We will also cover something most memoir writers run up against – the rellies wanting to keep family secrets secret.

Are you writing a memoir?

I’ll close with a couple of suggestions of memoirs to read – maybe you have already read them. Both describe family life – but two completely different situations. The books are Too Close to the Falls by Catherine Gildner and The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Bloggimg, Only child, Only child memoir

Only Child’s new look fosters new attitude

Only Child and son, Martin. Same photo as on my first blog post

Only Child and son, Martin. Same photo as on my first blog post

In case you didn’t notice before, Only Child Writes has a new design and logo. It wasn’t planned.

Last Thursday my blog header logo disappeared from my blog. Instead I was staring at white space at the top of every post – but the posts were all there. On my dashboard it was a different story – the specifics for this design were there but even when I tried to restore the header, it just wouldn’t connect to the actual blog.

Was this somehow connected to what’s going on in my life?

First the technicalities: After checking out WordPress’s “Help and Support” under Headers, I found that none of the possibilities listed was the cause. So I filled in the Support form and sent it through cyberspace. I received one of those “flying through cyberspace” emails back – so I know it arrived. Two days later I had heard nothing, so emailed my son for help and he said he would take a look at it.

Here’s where it gets interesting almost to the point of serendipity – I heard back from someone at WordPress. She attached a screenshot of what she could see at her end and it showed the original blue-coloured header. She asked if that was what I saw at my end. So I checked the blog site and found a completely different header and blog design for OnlyChildWrites.

I also found an email from my son, Martin.

Martin had taken a look – he couldn’t see the header on the post either. So, he set me up with a new design, emailing me about this plus instructions to change it if I didn’t like it.

I love it and emailed him back with thanks. Also emailed the WordPress support lady and thanked her but added my son had just changed the design and he figured the flaw was something at their end for the original design.

Going by the email times, it looks like WordPress took the screen shot about an hour before Martin made the changes.

Sometimes a change is for the better, especially when it comes serendipitously. Which got me thinking about life. Over the years, going way back to growing up an only child, I’ve learned to, well learn from my experiences. Past occurrences tell me how to approach new ones. Sometimes I’ve made exceptions, mainly in my writing, gardening and reading, but sometimes with friends and relationships with men. Often when I have done the latter, I’ve had the rug pulled from underneath me. Those of you who have been following this blog, will see a few posts that touch on this topic in some way.

Maybe I need to trust in serendipity more. The key word is “trust.” A former boyfriend once said, “Life is unfair,” and he is right. But life is also supposed to be a combination of good and bad, but when the bad seems to override the good in numbers, well…

It’s a dilemma. Somehow there must be a way to be wary and trusting.

Anyone have any answers here?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Bloggimg, Family, Help and Support, Learning Experience, Life demands, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Trust