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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

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