Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Words for Wednesday

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This weeks prompts are:


  1. Fluid
  2. Optimum
  3. Excitement
  4. Bus
  5. Forensic
  6. Forest 



And/or
  1. Theatre
  2. Shoe
  3. Passion
  4. Dogmatic
  5. Prison
  6. Visitor 




The old man, who once worked in forensics, had a fluid excitement and passion for the theater.  He got a ticket to see a play taking place in a forest.

In the play, a boy finds a magical shoe in the forest and hops a magical bus to an alternate universe.  The people in this part of the universe were surprised by this unexpected visitor.  They then told the boy he must hold on to the shoe for optimal growth and spirit. "It is dogmatic," they tell him. But he does not understand any of this.  So he attempts to leave and return to the forest, but can't seem to escape. But then he sees a button on the shoe that says,"Go back home," so the boy presses the button and he's magically sent back home.  Then he wakes up and realizes it was all a dream. He is lying in bed with his new set of shoes on the floor near the bed.  

The old man loved the play and gave it a thumbs up review. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Writing a Memoir? Avoid These Mistakes!


Show information about the snippet editorYou can click on each element in the preview to jump to the Snippet Editor. SEO title preview: Writing A Memoir? Avoid These Mistakes! - Writer's Life.org





Writing a memoir can be an extremely exciting project for any writer. However, it’s often a lot harder than you think!

Just because you are writing something personal, recalling things that have happened to you and telling your life story, it doesn’t mean that the writing will automatically flow, be captivating or that you’ll instinctively know what to do.

Writing a memoir requires you to be bold, truthful and compelling - you might have all the material you need but just because the story is already there doesn’t mean you’ll be able to write it in a captivating way.

If you are writing a memoir that you want to reach a wide audience you must truly understand how non-fiction storytelling works and seek that perfect balance between being truthful and entertaining, yet not offending your nearest and dearest or boring your readers with details that are of no interest to them.

So if you are thinking of writing a memoir, take a look at these common mistakes and make sure that you avoid them!


Writing too much

Your memoir shouldn’t be a daily journal of your life since you were 4 years old! You need to be able to condense, to pick those moments, those stories and experiences that changed you, that will have your readers in stitches or tears. Think carefully about what to include and what to leave out. Remember you aren’t writing an autobiography or a diary - a memoir should capture those important, life changing moments, those poignant memories, and funny stories or observations about life mixed alongside them.

This is one thing I have been trying to avoid. Just an aside, I'm not sure I really remember what I did when I was four! LOL!  My mom recently told me how I'd taught myself to read and how I was drawing perspective at a young age. This I would not have recalled on my own.  But I felt it was good to know and to include.


Not having a theme

Your memoir should have a point, it should include lessons or universal truths that resonate with your readers, that help them, that make them think about something differently or comfort them - feeling that have found someone who understands just how they feel. Memoirs should be about accepting changes, adjusting, dealing with death or breakups or loss of some kind, showing sympathy and compassion, friendship, work, perseverance and determination, having to start over, making difficult decisions and learning from your mistakes.

I knew exactly what my theme was going be.  It's been a popular memoir topic. I'd read one that resonated with me on some points, now I'm trying to do the same for others. Accepting I have depression and not feeling ashamed to tell others about it is what I have learned when begging to write about it.



Not preparing properly

Just because you are writing a book about your own life doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put in the same amount of research and preparation as you would do with a fiction book. Talk to friends or relatives, get different perspectives, read old diaries, read old newspapers, write down everything you know about a certain event, everything you felt and then revisit it to make sure that’s truly the way that you feel. Make sure you have a thorough and comprehensive outline of your memoir before you start, otherwise you could easily find yourself getting stuck or confused halfway through and not knowing how to take it forwards.

I recently dug out from storage some old journals I was required to write the first time I'd gone to the mental health center (I left and retuned more than a decade later). There were some things in the journals I wanted to include that I could recall but wanted to get more detail on.   

As I said above, I learned some things from my mom that I would not have recalled on my own. I've also been looking up info on subjects such as Prozac and dysthymia to include, contrasting previous with current information. I didn't do any of this when I first began writing, but have been doing so recently. It's one of those things I realized I needed to do as I went along. It's been part of the process of learning and deciding what to include.



Forgetting your reader

It can be so easy to get too self-involved when you are writing a memoir. You may well be revisiting tough memories and experiences after all. But if you don’t remember that you are writing for an audience then you can’t expect your book to appeal to them. As with any piece of writing, it is important to keep your reader in mind at all times and always ask yourself - if I didn’t know this person, is this something that I would want to read?

I've been seeing this in the memoirs that I have read, trying to either find something that resonates with me when reading memoirs of mental illness. When reading one on a topic that I have no knowledge of, I try to understand what is happening to that person by reading.  Two memoirs I've recently read were written by two different men who battled locked-in syndrome. I was not aware of this condition until I saw this book at the library. I then learned of this one and read it as well. I learned a lot about this condition from both these books. What I learned about depression from Prozac Nation and other depression memoirs has helped me understand my own depression better, and now I want to make others see more from my point of view.  



Not consulting your friends and relatives

If you are going to write about friends and relatives, businesses, or old bosses, you might want to talk to them first. A memoir should be personal and exposing to some degree and if you involve other people you want to make sure you are prepared to have difficult discussions with them or indeed ruin those relationships, and also protect yourself against any lawsuits!

This was something I was apprehensive over, so I used fake names.  Many of the people I have mentioned in my story already know that I am writing it. But there are some who don't know about it, simply because I  have no idea where any of them are today.  

I was especially apprehensive of a former boss with whom I had a bad job experience.  I have not seen him since I was fired by him in 2001. I now wonder,  should my book ever see the light of day, if he would even pick it up knowing what he and I went through that awful summer. 

And there are some college mates I have no clue about today and, in most cases, do not care one bit. However, I now wonder if they will know I mean them, should my story ever be published. Or if they will even remember me when see the see the book for sale. 

My one hope is that people don't have enough money for a lawsuit!  The boss no longer runs the restaurant, which wasn't a big business to begin with.  

I can't help thinking how my aunt, who died nine years ago next month, would have reacted to me even starting this book. Some of the things I said would  likely have triggered her sensitivity tendencies.  



Writing a memoir can be a truly cathartic and profound experience and, done right, can be a great success too. Just make sure you avoid these common mistakes, use your common sense, and really plan what you want to say. Then just go for it!

I've been trying to avoid these mistakes, but am not sure if I really have done so according to what I have read here. But I have been careful in some instances.  


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Saturday, June 24, 2017

This Year In Reading So Far

It's coming to the end of June, and every year since 2015, I have been doing a mid-year post on how much I have read so far. I still can't believe the year is nearly half-over.  It just happens too quickly 😍.


According to my Goodreads profile, I've read 133 books so far this year. This includes picture books that I binge-read, either at the store or at the library, without buying  or borrowing them. It's easy to do this since picture books are so short. And this brings me to another thing. ...

Aside from the seasonal Spring Bingo and Erin's Book Challenge 6.0 (which ran from January to April), so far I've completed the following reading challenges I signed up for this year (and just in time to start Erin's next challenge beginning on July 1):

What's in a Name? I always seem to finish this one first! There are always only six categories.


What's In A Name 2017 logo

Wild Goose Chase A new one this year. Only seven books are needed.

wild-goose-chase-challenge-button


Alphabet Soup  I counted the first book I read that began with each letter off the alphabet.



2017-alphabet-soup-button


Color Coded Another favorite. It only has nine categories.


 


Back to the Classics In only the first six months of the year, I've completed all 12 categories (you are not required to complete all of them).




Picture Book Reading Challenge  Since I binged on picture books, I finished this one in six months, completing all the bingo card spots. 






As far as other checklist and bingo-style challenges go, there are too many to mention, but there are two or three for which I have only one to three books left.  Several of these have categories like "a book from your childhood,"  something I'm trying to decide on. I now want to re-read several books I once read a a child. So many to choose from.

I'm trying to decide when to end some of my open-ended challenges--those with ether a maximum level (on many of those I've already gone over the max) or those with no official level.  The Mental Illness one, I definitely want to continue, since that is a subject close to me.  On some of the open-ended ones, I have only read one book to date. 


My progress on the ones I'm hosting:

Literary Loners:  36 books so far. No set levels on this one




Literary Loners Reading Challenge 2017 


Epistolary Reading Challenge: Again, no set levels, and 22 books to date. 

10 Epistolary Books To Add To Your Winter Reading List
Epistolary Reading Challenge 2017

Humor Reading Challenge: This one has levels and I'm way past the highest one, with 25 books to date. 

Illustration: A comedy mask reads a book.
Humor Reading Challenge 2017

Memoir Reading Bingo: I have completed 20 of 25 spots on the Bingo Card:


myfreebingocards.com - bingo card generator




Nearly every year, when I join challenges, the blog(s) hosting some of them seem(s) to get deleted by midyear, leaving me to decided when to call off the challenge in question.  I always get annoyed by this happening.  This has happened to two challenges hosted by the same blog this year. The hosting blog keeps changing domain names, then disappearing completely (and the blogger was one of those who joined my memoir challenge).   The two are the Paranormal Challenge and the Creativity Reading Challenge.  I've gotten into reading supernatural tales, especially in October in anticipation of Halloween. I must admit I've slacked a bit on this one, but am uncertain whether to continue.  The Creativity one is a very interest topic and I see some books I want to read that would count, but am uncertain whether to keep going on this one either. 









I can't seem to decide what my favorite read this year so far has been. Though I did get into reading Wallace Stegner.  And I did enjoy reading Wallace Thurman's  The Blacker the Berry.   And I got to read more by Elizabeth Wurtzel. 

I'm now looking forward to more reading for the rest of the year and seeing what challenge(s) I complete next. 

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Friday, June 23, 2017

First Day of Class

Wednesday night was the first meeting of "YOUR Story Matters."  I was amazed at the turnout. There were three elderly men among those who had signed up. Some younger women, some close to my age and some elderly ones as well.  I guess they all feel old enough to have memoir inside them 🙂

Among other things, the instructor had us introduce ourselves and say who some of our favorite authors are. I mentioned reading Prozac Nation and being inspired by it (BTW, I ordered a copy of the reissue  with the new afterword and should be receiving in the next week). I also mentioned reading Wallace Stegner, whom the instructor did not know about.  I was amazed at some of the stuff the others had to share.

first day of class

The class is being held in a classroom I never knew existed.  I'd been a regular student at the college years ago, but did not know about this classroom, at one corner of the library building. I though I had to enter through the library's main entrance, but saw that the entrance closed at 4pm for the college summer session.  I then tried looking a the campus map, but still could not see where this room is located. So I walked around the library building and found the room where the case is being held.

Our assignment is to write a mini-memoir of 750 words, the first draft of which is due by Sunday, to be emailed to the instructor. Only two days and I haven't begun yet.  But it shouldn't be too hard. I guess I can use some of what I've already written,  reworking it a little.  I just need to do my best. At the next meeting, the teacher will return the drafts with her written feedback.

I'm still deciding whether to try one of the online writing classes, and will be looking for any in-person classes on writing offered through the college's community education.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Words For Wednesday

 




I missed it last week, but am back for this week. But there are no words this week--only pictures. Pictures are a good source of writing inspiration. 


There was an abandoned shack out in the foothills with a broken fence around it. Very little was inside the shack.  No one dared go inside. 

When someone touring the area for the first time, he saw the shack and added to walk inside.  All he could find inside were cobwebs and dust on the dirt floor and shards of undeterminable materials.  He could see a broken-down sofa with springs and stuffing sticking out.  A dilapidated rocking chair sat in one corner. An old sewing machine was in another corner.  

The man observed all that he'd seen inside the shack and wondered who could have once lived here. Was it an old seamstress? Any old family? Someone was living in this neck of the woods? This was such mystery.

He soon became so scared that he decided to leave.  And he would never return. Very few others dared go inside. Therefore, the mystery remained unsolved.


_________________________________________________________________________




One morning, Josh looked out his window and everything seemed blue.  Was the world trying to tell him something? What did blue signify? Was it bad or good? 

"Does this mean I've got the blues?" Josh asked himself. "And just what are the blues?"

If the blues means sadness, then why does a bluebird mean happiness? Some things are so confusing. 

But by the end of the day, Josh no longer felt blue. It was as if the bluebird of happiness had in fact visited him. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Happy First Day of Summer!




Though today is officially the first day of summer, it has already been feeling like summer in my neck of the woods. Temperatures have been in the 90s and this is expected to continue for most of this week. How has it been for you?


















Monday, June 19, 2017

YOUR Story Matters







As I continue on my journey of rewriting my memoir and trying to decide when I think it's finished enough to find an editor, I will be taking a community education class on memoir writing. It is titled "YOUR Story Matters: Memoir Writing--Beginning."  I'm not sure whether to classify myself as beginner still, but I can hardly call myself an expert just yet.  But everyone I knew who saw this in the schedule of community education classes at the local community college immediately thought of me when they saw this.  I need as much advice on writing memoirs as I can get, and I think this will be helpful.

The class starts this Wednesday night and will run for three weeks.  It's done in-class at the college library.  The college also offers several online writing class for different types of writing. Among the topics are writing for kids, keys to effective editing, mystery writing, and travel writing. I'm trying to decide if I want to take any of these or one of the others offered.