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.
I finished reading “Lucy” by Jamacia Kincaid today. I found out that this is her pen name in a Youtube video. I loved the book. I knew of this book for some time but I had never read it. Other books by other African Caribbean authors were less compelling than Jamacia Kincaid’s partly autobiographical “Lucy”. I am writing my memoir Memories of Me about my life from about the age of thirteen or fourteen up to the present. I’m turning 34 next week. My memoir tells my story and of course the story of my life. Lucy is partly about Kincaid’s life. Kincaid was a nanny and did other jobs before establishing herself as an African Caribbean writer. I really admire her. I thought to myself this could be my grandmother’s prose even my mother’s (prose). I have probably read Caribbean authors unknowingly but this is the first time I have done so knowingly. I was impressed with Jamacia Kincaid’s writing style. When I go back to writing Memories of Me my memoir I will have “Lucy” nearby when I write parts of my memoir that are difficult to tell but necessary to telling my story. Kincaid tells her story the good the bad and the difficult in precise prose. I want to do the same. I also plan to have five chapters to my memoir just like “Lucy” has five chapters in the book.
I am reading Lucy by Jamacia Kincaid. I really am enjoying the book so far. I’m half way through the book. I really like Jamacia Kincaid’s writing style it is really good. Her style is her own and she uses humor in a way that really works. I found myself laughing through a lot of it because she tells the story in a particular way that informs and engages you. My memoir teacher Edvige Giunta recommended I read Lucy and Annie John. I really like Lucy and would consider structuring my memoir the way Jamacia Kincaid structured Lucy with five chapters each chapter with a specific name. Like my first chapter would be called Old Brooklyn and so on…
I got an email from my memoir professor. She told me that for Advanced Memoir Writing Workshop I cannot simply continue working on and writing my memoir piece I wrote last semester in workshop. I’ll always have my first memoir. It is 3,000 words. This coming semester I will use a 900 word memoir piece I wrote earlier on last semester called “Girl” it is about my life when I was 10 years old. I am looking forward to my last semester of college and writing my second memoir piece.
I was at Memoirfest. I am so happy that I went. I shared the first two pages of my memoir Memories of Me. I got so much positive feedback and even some nice comments from other students and alum. I was not expecting that to happen. I never would have gotten all of these positive comments, questions, and feedback if I had not gone to Memoirfest and been shy that night on December 12, 2014. It was a great night for me. I really enjoyed the work of all the other memoir students and alum. I am going to be taking Advanced Memoir Writing in the Spring and I am looking forward to writing a longer more polished piece but I am also looking forward to the writing process, writing in my Process Journal, reading specific chapters in Living to Tell the Tale and Writing as a Way of Healing(myself).