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

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

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