Tag Archives: Friends

Using Fiction Tools to Write Memoir (continued)

Only Child in Grade 12

In our last memoir writing session this week, we covered the topic of using fiction techniques when writing your memoir. Today, we discuss setting. There are similarities with using setting  in memoir and in writing fiction, with a few differences.

Always, you need to remember, memoir is not fiction, so you can’t make stuff up. True, settings in fiction often are real settings – at least countries, cities and the like. But sometimes the city or town is fictional, as are the residences and businesses and of course the streets.

Setting in memoir can give the writer an advantage, though. For example, you can write about the place you grew up in – as it was then (and a lot of that is how you remember it. Look at those old photos) and you can go back and see how it is today. Is the house you grew up in still standing? Or is it now a huge ugly condo or a paved parking lot?

But the narrative of setting in both fiction and memoir is stronger and more interesting if you skip writing it like a travel piece and put your character (you, in the memoir) right there. Show yourself going into that high school for the first time – how did you feel? Who did you meet? And blend in what you saw? For example, when my friend Nancy and I switched high schools for grade 12, (in the mid-1960s),  we had a heck of a time finding the most important classroom – the study hall. I don’t know how many times we walked around the whole top floor of the high school (it was walking in a square – that’s what it felt like and the actual shape of it). Finally another classmate with a study period helped us find the room.

So, you can see how that could generate the setting of just this school floor as Nancy and I wandered around lost. And the emotions, some dialogue and the actual study room when we finally found it and entered it.

Here’s one of the exercises I had my class do for setting. If you have time, you could try it.

  1. Exercise: Take a scene from your past and write about it with you in it. This could be the backyard of the house you grew up in, your bedroom, the kitchen, the street where you live. Note: if your memoir is about a particular time in your life use a scene from that as opposed to a scene in your past that won’t have anything to do with your memoir. The purpose is to create the atmosphere as you remember it in one location important to your life and learn how to show it to the reader from your unique POV. For example, if you were terrified of thunderstorms and hid under the covers when one came, and your brother liked to run outside in thunderstorms, the two of you would definitely have differing points of view. (copyright 2017 Sharon Crawford)

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under 1960s, classmates, Friends, Memoir content, Memoir writing, Only child memoir, School days

Only Child Grateful for Garden and Friends

Raggedy Annie guards Only Child's front garden

Raggedy Annie guards Only Child’s front garden

You’re getting some garden photos today. From this spring and summer. Friends’ photos coming up in a future blog post.

But both are connected in one way. I am grateful for both.

Let me clarify.

First my friends, my real friends, not the so-called friends like “Lois” who think they can control my life. On Saturday, my friend Bob picked me up at the Finch subway station. We were en route to Aurora for an old newspaper journalist reunion. While driving, Bob told me he was glad I was finding some peace with that church I had blogged about recently.

My first thought was “church.” I’m not a church-goer. I’m no longer Catholic or even Christian. Then my aging-brain kicked in. The Buddhist temple I had visited and meditated in during Toronto’s Doors Open May 23. I had blogged about it just after

https://onlychildwrites.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/only-child-finds-a-little-piece-of-peace/

 

Bob said that he knows I have been through a lot in my life and he was hoping I would find some peace and that might be with that church. I replied “I plan to go back but there hasn’t been time.” He said he hoped that I would. I’m planning to this Saturday.

Thank you Bob. I meant to tell you this on the way to Aurora, but the conversation got distracted and old minds sometimes operate like the proverbial gnats.

Bob and I have been friends for years. He was one of my first editors at one of the community newspapers I wrote for in York Region when I lived in Aurora (not quite in the grey ages – the latter is my school days). He has listened to me rant about everything from house problems to nasty people in my life (Lois doesn’t quite fit in that bad category, but the boarder that lived here from summer 2013 to October 2014 does), to – well you name it. He has also come to many of my son Martin’s gigs with the various bands he has played in over the years

The garden is my refuge and my delight (weeds and all – you don’t want to know the number of containers and bags of weeds and tree and shrub branches in the last yard waste pickup). As I daily pick the many black raspberries, pot plants, water potted plants and just sit out and enjoy the garden while eating meals or reading or just sitting, I am grateful. Sure, we have had a lot of rain, but it has eased off the last week or so. Some rain and possible thunderstorms due later today so I hope I won’t be eating my words here. But when I see on TV and the Internet all those forest fires burning out of control in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatoon and find out the number of people being evacuated, I guess we are pretty lucky here in southern Ontario, at least up to now. We have greenery, lovely flowers, and fresh food growing in the gardens and on the farms. Out west it is fire and smoke and air pollution and fear of losing your home.

The Weather Network showed a map of the fires and within listed the culprits causing the fires. The furthest east was “Person caused.” The rest were caused by weather (read “God”). The sense of justice in me wants the guilty parties to pay. But we’ll never find the person who caused some of the fires. My hope is that God will bring the necessary rain (sans thunder and lightning) to put all the fires out. And keep the wind away. Unfortunately, current weather forecasts show T-storms and wind.

Meantime, back in gardenland here, I will continue to enjoy my garden. But still keep a couple of wary eyes on the weather.

 

Cheers

Roses early summer in front garden

Roses early summer in front garden

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Family and Friends, Forest Fires Western Canada, Fresh produce, Friends, Gardening, God, Help and Support, Meditation, Only child, Peace and quiet, Raspberries, Weather

Only Child learns lesson from clogged drain

Only Child sits and ponders

Today may be Valentine’s Day but some of us chug and churn along alone in both work and our personal lives. I call it the “only person syndrome.” Never more did this hit home to me until my kitchen drain clogged Sunday evening. But I learned something from the experience, something I knew in my heart before, as well as something I intend to apply in a couple of ways in both personal and business life.

Sunday evening I was (and still am, at least the side effects of the medication) getting over a bout with the flu so a clogged drain was one of the last things I needed. When this happened to my late Mom and Dad, they knew what to do. As I write in my memoir:

When it came to getting things done around the house, if Mom and Dad couldn’t do it themselves, they turned to friends and colleagues. Dad worked as a timekeeper for Canadian National Railway and somewhere in the bowels of Union Station, he met up with Ken, the singing plumber. When house pipes burst, Ken arrived, and after he fixed the offending plumbing device, he let his pipes loose – he sang opera, loud, gregarious, but not to the height of breaking the glass top of the door between the living room and front hall.

(Excerpted from the memoir You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford)

However, I don’t have a “Ken” in my life. So I turned to my neighbour friends who do this type of work. No help from these neighbours who I had thought were my friends; we help each other out… or so I thought.

One exception here. One of my neighbours was sick and so he was immediately forgiven and I wished him a speedy recovery. One of the other neighbours refused to  help with excuses of what he was going to be too busy doing the next day and evening (I had specifically said I didn’t expect anyone to come over late on a Sunday evening). He proceeded to give me a long list of suggestions plus he said he didn’t know anything about such a situation. I know the latter isn’t true and from what I saw yesterday I have my doubts about some of the excuses. As much as it would have hurt, I would prefer he had said he didn’t want to help me with this. Monday morning I called my some-of-the time handyman, and bless his heart, he came over within a few hours and cleared the sucker. His fee was reasonable and he gave me a three-month warranty.

So, what is the lesson? How can I apply it in my personal and business life?

The lesson is two-fold. The bottom line is we have to trust ourselves to fix things in our lives and not really depend on others. I don’t mean we have to learn all trades and be all things. But when push comes to shove, we need to be careful whom we ask for help. Friends may not be the best answer (and really from previous experiences with another friend, I should’ve known this) so consider other options – from other professionals to ourselves.

Of course (and I have to stick this in) it helps if we have a partner, a significant other, even a sibling, who we can rely on at least for support, and sometimes help. Those of us living the “only person syndrome” can’t. However, we have another option…find someone else on our radar who is in a similar situation and offer that person support and ask for his or hers and I don’t mean running over to fix the plumbing. A buddy-type support, whether by phone or email or maybe sometimes in person when the going gets rough on one person’s side. The situation will switch and both individuals will have a chance to listen or lean on the other.

In these tough economic times, especially for us self-employed, this can often be the tipping point that gets someone moving in a positive direction – a job lead, a step out of the miasma of hopelessness and maybe a good laugh or two. It’s worth a try and I’m going to do this as soon as these medication side effects ease off (not drowsiness or anything with the brain working, for anyone wondering). I have someone in mind on the professional level.

Comments?

Next week I want to go into how laughter can help our health and well-being.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Betrayal, Family, Friends, Help and Support, Learning Experience, Only child, Only child memoir, Plumbing, Trust