Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Memoir Writing

I just finished a 4-week memoir writing class at McNeese University. Interesting. I felt a little funny signing up for it; I hate the thought of being “old enough” to write my memoirs. As you see, I had the wrong idea entirely.

Writer Anne Valente taught the class. Anne has worked as a feature writer for Sauce Magazine, a food monthly in Saint Louis, and as a music writer/columnist for Playback Magazine, a music and culture monthly. She’s also been published in The Washington Post, The Times of Southwest Louisiana and Divine Caroline, and holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Watching Anne interact with the class got my creative juices flowing. Since I’m a people-watcher, I studied her thoughtfulness, her tactfulness, her sweetness. Whether we really wrote anything worthy or not, we all felt we had by the time we left her class. Anne’s an encourager.
Several times I found myself mentally writing my hero and heroine’s memoirs. Jotting down a note or two that can be used if and when I ever get back to my novel.

There’s something about being with other writers—even beginners who don’t have a clue—hearing their questions, their ideas, their stories, seeing their excitement—that really stimulates my imagination.

The night before our last class, I was able to produce something. The words came so unexpectedly I wondered where they’d been. Writing doesn’t come easy for me—especially creative writing. I can turn out articles for our local/regional magazines with no problem, but if I have to be creative then I feel the pressure.

I suggest everyone take a memoir writing class. The memories you conjure up can be used in so many ways: essays, short stories, novels, nonfiction pieces, just to name a few. Check out these websites to get started:

Interesting site called Inkspell

William Zinsser's Memoir, Truth and Writing Well . This is a wonderful site. If you don't read anything else, please, please scroll down to his 'Here's What I Suggest' and read it.

Last, here is one of my favorite books:
An Old Friend Far Away by Natalie Goldberg.

There were several exceptional writers in my memoir writing class. A couple of them joined Bayou Writers Group and others plan to visit. I can't wait to get to know them better. With all these wonderful resources (and wonderful writers) at our fingertips, there's not one good reason to be blocked. Right? Right!

So let's write somethin'.


LKHarris-Kolp said...

Wish I would have known about that- I'm working on my memoir (previous life, before marriage).

Debra Harris-Johnson said...

Jessie you are a great encourager and always my inspiration. Even when writing about your own experience you stop to give positive comment about others. It seems the words I,my,me are just not in your vocabulary.

Your blog is my favorite because you are always so helpful and gracious even to newbies like myself. Keep us informed.

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