I am taking an Advanced Memoir workshop class in this, my last semester of college. I am reading four books that my teacher Edi Giunta is using to teach us how to write time in memoir and how to write scenes and about place and how to write characters and even dialogue. I am looking forward to writing my memoir proposal in the next three weeks and then I have to write a 2,000 word draft the following week. My memoir is going to be about my relationship with my mother and how it’s changed since my childhood or adolescence.
I was reading DeSalvo’s The Art of Slow Writing and I came across a reference to Kathryn Harrison’s The Mother Knot on page 8. I thought oh that’s an idea I can write my 4,000-5,000 memoir about my relationship with my mother Shellon Karim-Lewis. That is what I wish to accomplish by the end of this semester, my last semester in college. I like the idea of writing a memoir about my relationship with my mother. We have had our not so good times of course but I really love and trust my mother with my life, with my dreams and with my secrets. Once I start writing once I finish it I’ll let friends read it. I hope to get honest but good comments.
Since I was a little girl I wrote poetry from the age of nine or ten years old. I found poetry again in high school and then in college when I declared my Writing major at New Jersey City University. I took a class known as Poetry Workshop with Handal and I really enjoyed the course. There I was writing poems with prompts given in class. I have a Chapbook of ten typewritten poems, each a page long, I created in that class. I am so happy I’m actually successful at writing in another genre. I am writing memoir. My memoir teacher Dr. Giunta said great things about the memoir I wrote in Memoir Workshop last semester. She told me that my essay on the creative process was great! She encouraged me to use my essay as a guide for the 1,500 word essay on the creative process I’ll write at the end of this semester. I am writing a new memoir this semester in Advanced Memoir that has to be anywhere from 4,000-5,000 words. I am writing my memoir about my life when I was 9 or 10-years old and the title of my memoir is “Girl”.
Instead of having our regular scheduled Memoir Workshop class in the classroom on February 10, 2015 our class, Giunta’s student memoir writers get a chance to meet Margaux Fragoso, a memoirist. We meet in GSUB 317 on campus. I am sure I am going to ask her at least two questions. One about her writing process and the other maybe any tips she has for a novice like me.
I will be writing a new memoir piece about some other aspect of my life (like my life when I was a ten year old girl) that is to be a 4,000-5,000 word polished piece by the end of April ’15. I wrote a 3,000 word memoir piece last semester that I plan to continue writing this summer through December 2015 until I have a book length 1st draft of my narrative, my memoir, Memories of Me.
For the next 5 weeks from next Tuesday I will be writing 5 memoirs of increasing length. These five memoirs will be my writing practice. I will be writing a 4,000-word to 5,000 word memoir piece this semester due around May 9, 2015. I will become more familiar with memoir writing by the end of this semester and aspects of memoir writing…
My memoir professor Edvige Giunta showed me an anthology she did a few years ago that included the work of a woman that had dealt with a serious crack addiction. This woman wrote a memoir that appears in an anthology Edi did about her crack addiction. I want to write about my experience living with Schizophrenia for twenty years. Edi gave me a look at the anthology and how this woman structured her memoir. Edi also told me I should consider writing my memoir in vignettes and in a fragmented way. This idea interests me very much. This is how I will structure my memoir about my life living with Schizophrenia for twenty years. I can write a series of short chapters (I can write a series of vignettes). I can create a fragmentary style that will be my own for my memoir.
I met with Edi Giunta my memoir professor after our 1st class meeting for the semester of Advanced Memoir workshop. Edi told me she thought I was a really good writer. She returned my 3,000 word piece to me from last semester’s Memoir Workshop and told me it was really good. She said if I had not went off in another direction in the middle of my memoir piece I could have gotten an A for the course. Edi also said that my 750-word Essay on the Creative Process was well written and I should use it as a guide to write my Essay of the Creative Process for my final memoir for Advanced Memoir this Spring ’15 semester. I was so happy and filled with good emotions after our short meeting was over even as I traveled home to Princeton Junction from NJCU last night.
Sometimes my writing will be unbeautiful. They don’t call it a writing “process” for nothing. I have to write and write and write some more. If I take the censor off my shoulder when I write the blue or black ink stained pages of notebook paper in my notebook will be filled with my personal herstory. Some of my language will be compelling but all of my “language” will be necessary to get to the point where I can sift through my handwritten pages and then type only what I deem fit to be a part of my memoir. I am trying to pen a draft of my book length memoir Memories of Me by December 2015.