Sunday, July 27, 2014

Memoir Writing: Wrenching The Gut 2

Today, I wrote four more pages on the Traumatic Incident from when I was eighteen. Good news: I re-read the first five pages, and was able to work on it, too. I didn't get nauseous today. I cried a few times, but I don't think anyone in Starbucks noticed. It was silent tears, not sobbing. I'm now at a point in the story where I a feeling overwhelmed by the amount of backstory there is, and frontstory, for that matter. I'm calling it quits for today.

Yesterday's word count: 1724
Today's word count: 1291

Feeling accomplished.

Last night, I got home and watched a movie that had been recommended to me, called Stuck In Love. It stars Greg Kinnear, as a writer, and Jennifer Connelly, as his ex-wife that he's still in love with, and their two teenage children, who are also both writers. Lily Collins is the angry, cynical daughter who gets a book deal at eighteen, and Nat Wolff as her poet younger brother. Kristen Bell is Kinnear's "friend" and there is even a cameo appearance (voice only) by Stephen King. It is very well-written, and while it can be discouraging to see young writers be so successful when you are more than twice their ages and still struggling, I enjoyed watching it and would recommend it.

After the movie, I read for seven hours. I dug out Priscilla Long's The Writer's Portable Mentor: A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life. I had started reading it upon its purchase, three years ago, but somehow got sidetracked from it. I read a good half the book last night, and did a few of the writing exercises suggested. I'm in the midst of learning, from the book, how to separate the STRUCTURE of a piece from the content, and apply it to my own writing. For instance, let's imagine an essay on coffee. Perhaps, it is nine paragraphs long, which is a common form, or structure. This nine-paragraph form is the vessel for the content, which is liquid (and in this example, the content really is liquid!). This fictional essay on coffee can be broken down thusly:

  1. Paragraph One - Introduction to the topic of coffee, inc. facts about world consumption and popularity.
  2.  P. Two - History of coffee in ancient cultures
  3.  - History of coffee trade, importance in business and economy
  4.  - Personal anecdote - author's introduction to coffee and passion for it
  5.  - Metafacts -  Different kinds of coffee beans and growing practices
  6.  - Metafacts - Free trade and organic movement
  7.  - Metafacts - Different ways to roast and brew it. Coffee rituals around the world.
  8.  - Personal anecdote - author's own experience with rituals of coffee
  9.  - Conclusion - the variations in how coffee is currently important to both world economies and personal performance in life.
Taking this form, anyone can pour (pun intended!) their own content into this structure. 
  1. Topic X - introduction
  2. Historical significance of Topic X
  3. Historical development or discovery of Topic X
  4. Personal anecdote related to Topic X
  5. Metafacts about Topic X
  6. Metafacts about Topic X
  7. Metafacts about Topic X
  8. Personal Anecdote related to Topic X
  9. Conclusion about Topic X's relevance, application to the world, etc. 
So, now, I'm on the hunt for memoir structures in which I can pour my own content. I've started reading Cheryl Strayed's 2012 memoir about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Wild, upon recommendation. I have a couple of other books in my queue to follow that, and I'll let you know how it goes.

No comments:

Post a Comment