Thursday, June 25, 2009

Memoir Daily Log

Submitted by Lilless McPherson Shilling

Journal. Delores led us in our journal writing. She asked us to write a six-word memoir based on some of the following topics: your first job, your first kiss, what you were like in elementary school, secret of being in a good relationship or marriage, your biggest regret, the best trip you ever took.

Delores gave us a handout of personal history questions from Real Simple magazine and suggested a website for six-word memoirs:

Snacks. I introduced the snacks, including some that were “memoir” snacks: orange slices, ginger snaps, fig bars, popcorn, and fruit cocktail.

Odds & ends. We talked about plans for the October writing marathon.
Book discussion. We discussed Bret Lott’s memoir, Before We Get Started. The conversation centered on Lott’s reliance on faith and the similarities and differences between Lott and Stephen King.

Similarities: Both authors discuss rejection, the influence of their wives, and the importance of discipline and honesty in writing. Both admire the writing of Raymond Carver, a short story writer.

Differences: King uses humor and profane language to humorous effect. While both referred to other writers, Lott uses much longer quotes.

Mini-lesson. Amy led us in a mini-lesson on dialog. She asked us to think about when to use it, when not to use it, how to use it, and how to make it sound realistic. She said, “In memoir, it’s a way of bringing other peoples’ voices into your text.” Our exercise was to create a dialogue between Stephen King, Bret Lott, and William Zinsser. She handed out “12 Exercises for Improving Dialog.”

We devoted the rest of our session to response group and writing time.

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