Write what should not be forgotten. —Isabel Allende
“ME? My life? Important? Ha!”
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard those words uttered in the many “Writing Your Memoirs” workshops I’ve taught. By the time we finished our set of classes for the season, most of these people would find it hard to believe they felt at one time they had nothing to write about that anyone else would consider important.
The room rocks with laughter, or tears start flowing as the group starts to share some of their favorite memories.
With a fresh approach to their material and renewed energy, they set to work creating small vignettes about canning tomatoes, the day my dog died, my mother’s illness and what it taught me, how my granddaughter saved her mother’s life, how I won a Purple Heart in the Air Force, my experiences as a nursing home caregiver…
In each of these stories, the authors finds a pulse or emotional trigger, and a kernel of wisdom.
The work now begins in earnest as they learn how to embellish, revise, revise again and finally shape their drafted stories into finished manuscripts.
News Bulletin: Every one of our lives is important because WE are important.
We DO have stories to share with others.
We DO have something to write about that others would want to read.
In these workshops we certainly proved that point.
In fact, at the end of each set of sessions, we had a large number of stories that were good enough to be printed and spiral-bound as a book.
This was before digital printing and print on demand; today we would have self-published these books and sold them on the Internet.
In the introductory session of a “Memoirs” writing workshop, I demonstrate how to make writing into a habit or ritual. You will need:
- A special place in your living quarters (private, where you will be able to write undisturbed)
- Proper equipment (in the earlier years, most attendees had electronic typewriters, which eventually were replaced with computers)
- A set period of time (I advise new writers to start with 10-20
Soon this ritual, reinforced by mindset and intention, starts to produce results.
Workshop members are amazed to discover that relatives and friends understand and respect this new schedule. I encourage them to keep expanding their established writing time.
As this procedure starts to develop into a routine, they find themselves staying even longer and writing more.
Then one day they bring in the draft of an entire story. I show them how to stay focused on revising and editing this drafted story.
Together we work it through until it is completed.