Showing posts with label Marion Roach Smith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marion Roach Smith. Show all posts

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thankful Thursday: The Memoir Project


The cliché advice I received while living the events of my memoir — "Take it one day at a time" — is also part of my revision strategy. Progress is slow, but I'm taking it one page at a time. 

Continuing with a revision theme this month, I'm sharing a resource for memoirs. I finished my "vomit draft" this year after reading The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life by Marion Roach Smith.

On The Memoir Project Blog, Marion shares News You can Use with examples of short memoir — an op-ed or personal essay. She encourages you to read and study the links. Some links from her site:
My recent favorite The Power Of Memoir. Listen In. This post includes a link to a one-minute radio essay from Dr. G. Thomas Couser "Memoir and Social Change." I like this one, because I saw fiction writers discourage another writer from writing a memoir in an online writer's group discussion. Citing the book-buying market and the writer's first-time status, she was encouraged to write her story as fiction. 

I'm all for being realistic. However, the discussion made me wonder how many books would be published, if we all listened to "the market isn't buying ..." or "no one wants a book from a first-time author" advice? Fiction writers certainly don't. First-time novelists are published. Picture book writers don't. First-time picture book writers are published. Memoir writers don't. First-time memoirists are published. If we all followed this advice, we would only have books from celebrities like Snooki or true-crimes from the headlines memoirs.

I haven't looked back at the writer group's discussion, but I shared that I am writing a memoir using many fiction techniques to craft my story. However, I pointed out — "It's a true story and that's how I'm writing it." Plus, I shared Marion's book and blog as a resource. 


Thanks to Susan Oloier for giving me Kreative Blogger Award. She's a busy writer with a blog, with a collection of essays about growing up in the 1980s My Life as a Misfit and with the recent release of her novel Fractured about miscarriage and marriage. She also had an essay published in February on The Daily Beast about her son Zane, who has Trisomy 18.

I should also say thanks for letting me vent about the "first-time" part. Have you been on any writer rants this week?

Monday, February 27, 2012

The End

A sample of some of my source material for my MIP — Memoir in Progress.

I hope to type The End on my vomit draft of my memoir this week. Those two words don't mean I'm finished.

After reading Marion Roach Smith's The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life, I set a goal to write five pages, five days a week. My new focus gave me a fresh hour to write. Most days, I managed to write my pages, make notes on where I should begin the next day and comment on a few blogs before Enzo woke up. I completed five pages every day but one.

I did a lot of the legwork for the memoir several years ago. I received several "send its" at a conference and a request for the full book proposal and chapters. Nothing happened, but my proposal helped me during this draft phase.

I wrote most of the vomit draft fresh. I scrapped more than 125 pages of already written, critiqued material in the process. I deleted a couple of chapters. I added new ones. I saved 21 pages.

By mid-week, I hope to type The End and move on to goal No. 3 for the year — read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I've explained the why here in No. 7.

Once I finish the Harry Potter series, I'll revise the vomit draft. It's going to be fun to fact check my own work. I inserted notes as I typed to remind me to check a source for specific details.

What sources you might ask? Well, my late husband communicated primarily with an auditory scanning system, so I had to write down each letter as he spelled out his words. This old post explains how we communicated one letter at a time.

I have a box of notebooks with many of our conversations, my journal, his journal, newspaper articles and my newspaper columns on the topic of those four years after his stroke and before his death. Had I stopped to check these sources during my vomit draft, well, I might still be writing the first chapter.

As I enter the editing phase, it makes me wonder if I can begin a new project or whether I should just focus on my revisions. Do you write and revise at the same time or focus on just one manuscript?

Monday, January 9, 2012

I'm creating vomit


Photo by Tracy S. Williams

Well, I'm creating the written variety.

Since Jan. 2, I've been getting up early, walking down the hall and sitting at my desk. How is this different than my Jan. 1 routine? I'm not reading news sites, commenting on blogs or checking the weather — out the window or on an app. I'm putting "butt in chair," opening a Word file and writing.

One of my 2012 goals is to write five pages a day, five days a week. 

I won't bore you with the details every week, but for my first week — it worked! I have 25 pages or around 6,500 words. 

I came up with this routine after reading Marion Roach Smith's The Memoir Project:  A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life. I found this book through  Jeff Goins blog when he interviewed Smith. I checked out her website and purchased her book for the Kindle to read over Christmas. 

After extracting the Kindle from Hubby's Angry Birds-playing-hands, I finished reading Smith's book before New Year's Eve. She shares wonderful stories to illustrate her points on writing memoir whether it's a book for publication, an essay or a treasured family memory. 

Several points in Smith's book struck me as doable for my memoir-in-progress manuscript:
  • Start small
  • Write with intent
  • A punch list for a memoir project
Here's a video from Smith's website:

"The Memoir Project" from Marion Roach Smith on Vimeo.

Here are some recent posts on her site:
By the time I read Smith's book, I already decided this would be the year for a completed MIP draft. Her book gave me a nudge to make sure it happens in five pages a day. 

Are you trying a new writing method this year or want to share what works for you?