Writing for Workshop II: Making Sense of Memory (1,250 words maximum, in google docs by noon, Thursday 10/19)

Making Sense of Memory

  • 1,250 words maximum (put word count on page 1)
  • Posted to the class folder in Google Docs by Thursday, September 19 at noon

The pieces we have read so far have all been versions of memoir:  as such, they are all attempts to make sense of memory.  In the next piece you write, I want you to try to do the same.  So:

  • Choose a memory to write about.  You'll be best served if you focus on something concrete -- a moment, a conversation, a realization, an epiphany -- and not on a general category.  The day my mother found cigarettes in the pocket of my jeans is a memory.  "My relationship with my mother" is an idea, a generalization.  Start with the memory.

  • Trust your instinct.  The memories that mean something to you stick out in your head.  You are thinking of one now.  Don't spend a lot of time trying to find one that you think ought to be meaningful.  Just focus on the ones that actually are.

  • Your job is to convey the memory, and maybe to convey the sense you make of it.  Don't try to Make a Big Point About Life, unless one suggests itself. And be wary of cliches:  make this your story.  Make us see it, feel it from your point of view.  The stories we've read have all concerned traumatic memories, but there's more to life than trauma.  Again, trust your instinct.

  • Think, as you work on this piece, about structure:  about where to begin, where to end, what's in the middle.  Chronology is yours to control here; we can start in the middle, we can begin at the end, we can come around in a circle or we can take a path to some unexpected endpoint.  Think about the path you're constructing, because much of the sense you make here will come from what you decide to give us first, second, last.
Last modified: Sunday, September 15, 2013, 9:36 AM