We write for pleasure, but whose pleasure? Our own? Do we want to keep our stories to ourselves or do we want to share them with others?
In our group our objective is to produce an extract from our work in progress and turn it into a publishable short story for our end of year anthology.
Today, for me, is ‘Back to Normal’ day. Our fortnightly Memoir Writing Group workshops begin today for the next semester. The house, post burglary, is protected within and inch of its life. With much help and guidance from Paul, we now have, along with new deadlocks, ‘Ring’ Video doorbells that chime when someone is at any of our doors and takes a video which is stored in The Cloud. We are locked up tighter than Fort Knox. I know, it’s a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, but it feels like we have done the best we can to protect ourselves. It’s time to move on.
Today our Memoir Writing Group resumes at the Godfrey Street Neighbourhood House in Bentleigh and I can’t wait to hear what members have been doing over the holidays. We all have writing projects ‘on the go’ which we share with each other for help and feedback. When we meet, we also write a 15 minute splurge where we just ‘go for it’ and write whatever comes into our heads. Before we start we knock that editor critic off our shoulder and tell it to take a holiday. There will be plenty of time later to revise and get things right.
I believe that everyone has a story to tell. The memoir writing group assists and encourages us to do so in a safe and friendly environment. Members read and discuss historical and personal events from their own point of view. They may wish to write a memoir for their family, or to publish for wider distribution. I am in awe of the talent in our group and can’t wait to hear the next installment of their work in progress.
We are all passionate about writing and I try to make the class handouts on the craft of writing as relevant to our writing as possible. Later in the year, with their permission I hope to showcase members and their work in progress. I’m sure you too will fall in love with their unique and different stories.
Why not grab a pen and start recording your life story in the pages of an exercise book? In the beginning, don’t worry about time lines or order. Just jot things down as they come to you. You can always sort it out later.
The book that most changes your life is the one you write.
You ask a very interesting question at the top of this post, one that I think every aspiring writer of memoir in particular should try to sort out for themselves long before the last words are penned. I see a lot online about writers desperate to be published, expecting to be rewarded for the effort they’ve put in, and sometimes spending a great deal of time and money on self-publishing, only to experience the disappointment that no one wants their book and that sales are minimal. Yes, everyone has a story, but not everyone has a story that’s interesting to a wider audience.
Even writing for a family can be a disappointment because not everyone in the intended family audience will necessarily be a reader – and even if they are, that doesn’t mean that they want to read a family story. They may only like reading romance or crime!
The urge to write is a powerful one, but I think we can save ourselves a bit of hurt (and time, maybe money) if we are quite clear about why we do it. Doing it just for yourself IMO is just as satisfying as doing it in pursuit of a dream of having it published one day.
My mother told me that she self-published a book of poetry when she was a young woman. It must have been expensive to do back then, but it was long-gone by the time she died, because it had ceased to matter to her.
Glenice, glad your back this term and helping others write their stories. I’m back teaching too and thinking about your post and Lisa’s comment, for me the most valuable assets I give to my students is that safe space to write and share, the opportunity to improve their craft as they write and learn from me and each other, and that all important motivation to keep writing. The pleasure given and received from even one published poem or story will never be felt no matter how fleeting if you don’t write it down and share it. Whether that sharing is with classmates, family, neighbours, or a wider public. And if somewhere or someone, your words strike a chord and remain for posterity what a bonus! More power to your right arm to keep writing and encouraging others so we can read Lisa’s reviews one day and say – there’s the work of one of my students:) (I can hear you chuckling Lisa…)
I have a new member in our group who owes so much to your support and guidance. You encouraged her to spread her writing wings and try everything. She is now writing her memoir. .
So true, Lisa. It is important to work out beforehand who your targeted readers will be. However, your aim may be to simply record the story for your own satisfaction and be happy to see where the journey takes you. I love Bryce Courtney’s quote, ‘There is no greater tribute than to lovingly record a life’, and nothing can compare with holding your book in your hand and knowing that you have recorded and preserved a story that is important to you. There is a sense of completion and for many it really doesn’t matter whether it is a single A4 copy bound at officeworks or a published book.