Stepping into the forest of my mind

Stepping into the forest of my mind
Just as every journey begins with a first step, every story begins with the first word.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Story Genius Writing Course: One Ticking Clock in Story
Crawling along in the
Story Genius method for
my college memoir.
A story is one external problem that grows, escalates, and complicates from beginning to end, Lisa Cron says in our Story Genius class.  Jennie Nash concurs. And, the ladies tell us, the writer needs to develop one overarching ticking clock with real life consequences. 


It sounds easy, doesn’t it? Try it in memoir.

So I started with my misbelief that I shouldn’t attempt college because I’m inadequate to those seeking a college education. This was instilled in me when I was growing up and struggled in school. This belief kept me out of academia and away from failure, humiliation or displaying incompetence. Or so my father told me. I chose the successful path of secretary with a regular paycheck and married and became a mother like my mom, sisters, and friends.

I was safe in my cozy box of motherhood, safe from any fear of failure until my disabled daughter signed up for high school classes. Then I needed to choose whether to be a failure at guiding my children or disabled child or a failure at attempting college.

The ticking clock begins as I am forced by a comment made from a high school guidance counselor, an educated person respected in society, to either re-teach my daughter as best I could, the material needed to pass high school by educating myself first through college classes, or condemn her to only special education classes in high school.

So you may ask why I was so afraid of failure in college.

Because, in my mind, if I fail at my attempt to obtain a college degree, I have wasted the time I could have spent with the family, trying to achieve a goal that was not possible for me. My father would be right. I am not college material. 

But my family is everything to me. If I failed college, I would have wasted my family’s time, which is more precious to me. It’s ok to waste your own time but not someone else’s, especially when you love them.

So what do you think of my memoir problem and ticking clock? Any comments you offer are greatly appreciated. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Insecure Writer’s Support Group asks: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?
          Memoir must be told in story with all the story elements in place.  But of course, everything must be true.
And that’s why memoir is so difficult!

            Up the ante, build, complicate, add twists and turns, find resolution—in memoir.  Nuts! It’s extremely difficult when it is all personal and needs to be true.  And then add insight. Yes, insight in memoir as well as in fiction.  The protagonist must share insight into her actions.  The reader must follow along her inner thoughts to see how she works out her story problems.  How she grows; how she changes. 

            To get emotion on the page, the protagonist must be vulnerable.  Easier when it is a fictitious character you are writing about than yourself.  But I understand that to be able to connect with readers, to get that “me too” feeling, I must allow them into my mind, my worries, my thoughts, my decisions.  This is what makes memoir so powerful, so transformative to others.  It’s about why the situation or action matters to the protagonist.  Why does it matter that Victoria goes to college at this time?  What does going to college mean to Victoria?  

            Memoir as in fiction, tough questions need to be asked and then answered.  And the content of these answers need to be important to the characters.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I’m struggling with.  And this is why I’d wish I didn’t know that memoir needs to be told like a story.  Then I could write my memoir like a collection of humorous anecdotes.  But then it wouldn’t be as meaningful to others.  There’s the reason why we authors keep looking to better our skills in writing. 

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s SupportGroup.  We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.  

 May publishing be offered to any writer who seeks it in 2017.  Have a wonderful New Year!