Home > Memoir, Uncategorized > Memoir Workshop Part II

Memoir Workshop Part II

On day one, Tom McAllister asked whether the things you cared about were worth writing about. He suggested that to write a great essay we need to think deeply as suggested by Lucas Mann in the Atlantic. I’ll make it easy for you: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/06/to-write-a-great-essay-think-and-care-deeply/394628/

A good essay, if we look deeply, is about a narrow subject within a larger one. As if an essayist “always writes two essays simultaneously . . .one exploring. . .the situation, the other. . .the story.” http://brevitymag.com/craft-essays/locating-an-essays-dna/

When writing the essay, the more specific, the more interesting it gets. Sensory details help. Sights, smells, sounds. If you get the reader to care about you, the reader will care about the things you care about.

Phillip Lopate talks about the intelligent narrator. One has more tools than a novelist. When writing an essay, we can stop and explain, something a novelist has a hard time doing. http://philliplopate.com/2011/08/reflection-and-retrospection-a-pedagogic-mystery-story/

An example can be found in Joan Didion’s “Good Bye to all that.” Every so often she moves forward, such as the comment “. . .was anyone ever so young, yes I was.” http://essaysspring13.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/files/2013/04/Joan-Didion-Goodbye-to-All-That.pdf

Memoir is a type of narrative nonfiction. It is about what’s behind what happened.

Sam Ligon was of the opinion that fear, shame and joy are the three core emotions.

Alienation; everyone relates to it. Everyone has felt it one time or another.

Being likable: some readers won’t like you no matter what. Don’t fall into that trap. Tell the truth.
One example he mentioned, where the author goes on a sort of limb, writing about her stillborn baby while delivering a child a year later is “An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination,” by Elizabeth McCraken, a short memoir, maybe 40,000 words reviewed here by the NY Times http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/05/books/review/Rosenfeld-t.html?_r=0

Finally, keep in mind people want to be entertained. (That’s why I read) Acknowledging faults works.

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