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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Journal With Impact: Memoir Perspective

Workshop: Six Conversations for Writing Creative Journals

“For to remember is to make a pledge: to the indelible experience of personal perception, and to history itself.”                                            Patricia Hampl

Now that you have developed some sensory language, and defined character attributes and physical locations, the next stage is to extend your seedlings to focus on relationships, memories, and communication. Look for specific threads where past history can connect with present history in your personal world.

We want to be able to connect emotionally with our readers—sometimes across barriers of language or age or culture. However, often, we first need to understand how we connect with ourselves. In her study on memoir Patricia Hampl also notes that it is a landscape bordered by memory and imagination.

Art and imagery can become a separate language of communication. One way to begin to explore some aspects applying autobiographical premises and techniques is to use vignettes, a self-contained prose passage, according to Michael J. Bugeja, which then can be developed later into narrative, or poetry, or essays, if so desired.

Consider vignettes as a series of verbal photographs. These mini snapshots can be seen through your own personal autobiography or through a fictional character. Sometimes it helps to lay the groundwork for memoir through a character in order to set up a scene, especially if you are exploring sensitive issues where healing still needs to take place. In this situation a certain emotional distance helps ‘see’ into the truth behind the memory.

One approach that Michael J Bugeja suggests can also become an over-arching thread for perspective and voice and theme.

Poet as a Visionary can be a veteran of an experience—someone who has participated in or been an involved witness or someone who hasn’t—yet gives an overview of events, sometimes by imagining what it would have been like or has an opinion on the whole process.

Poet as an Eyewitness has the experience and gives a first hand account of some aspect. The emphasis is on impact of the experience whereas the visionary’s emphasis in on perspective or opinion.

We’ll examine some examples in the next blog as we discuss voice, but for now look over your maps and see if the words you chose fit either as a visionary or eyewitness voice.

Action Steps:

Begin the shaping process towards an outline and possibly a working table of contents. Choose one perspective to develop a possible theme thread.

1. Make a list of your key words so far.

2. Next to each write a very brief sentence that focuses it’s meaning to you then.

3. Next to each mark whether the key is a location, or a relationship, or a inner revelation. Do any repeat more than others?

4. Take whichever focus repeats and then set up a practice outline using that as the foundation.

Share: Which perspective did you choose and why?

Read deep, marcy

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Journal With Impact: Memoir Maps

Workshop: Six Conversations for Writing Creative Journals

“All this time the Guard was looking at her, first through a telescope, then through a microscope, and then through an opera glass.”  Lewis Carroll

The lens through which we view or relive our memories will focus the story we want to share with others. First we take all our brainstorming and look for the connections. The memories begin to form a shape, a map, from which to outline and track the journey we want to relive and then to share. Both figuratively and literally maps can help us go deeper into memoir and give us new insights.

Drawing maps can combine the brainstorming and concrete research at the same time, whether you use an existent map to copy from, or design your own. It is another way to focus on the time, place, and experience that you are exploring. 

Here are some suggestions to experiment with and choose which lens you want to share from—a long distance reminiscence, a day in the life, or an internal life-changing experience. Then once you know the style that captures your voice focus on the action step versions below to fine-tune your story.

Possibilities. Draw your own setting map, or trace one. Take an old atlas and cut and paste to make up your own country or local setting. Mimic a tourist map. Take a map and turn it upside down or backwards. Make a collage of landscapes and buildings.

Research old maps in a library, make copies, and then turn them into your own. Several years ago a friend sent me an historical map of a small town in Holland around the 12th Century. It has figures on the streets showing where commerce was done. One youth is leading sheep down one path. On another a wagon is loaded with produce. The people in the village are included along with the street names.

Any map can be adapted to your personal visual memories.

Here is a word sample memory map that is a combination of memoir and creative process that author George Ella Lyon suggested for beginning poets in her book “Where I’m From.” 

I am unable to copy, sadly, but she took a piece of a traditional map of a geographic location and then placed the word YOU in the center. Then she scattered words all over—near the highway, along the river, and in the various neighborhoods. Here are some of her words—“Town or Street Names, SMELLS, Central Events, Wild Card, TASTES, Objects, Church Experience, Parent’s Work, and Hiding Place.”

Action Steps:

1.     Choose a literal map, antique or present, or a photograph of a particular landscape, or draw your own version with multi-colored pencils, or in black and white with pens. Or try all three to see which atmosphere most resonates with your memories.

2.     From whichever map shape or style you chose to work with, make at least three different versions. A) Literal objects or site names. B) Emotion words or phrases only. C) Themes or symbols as representatives of your main impressions. Have fun and draw your own personal emojis.

3.      Then from your three approaches mix and match them as in the sample by George Ella Lyon.

Share: What one key word did you post on your map that you didn’t expect?

Read deep, marcy

"The Seeker" Rachel Marks | Content Copyright Marcy Weydemuller | Site by Eagle Designs
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