Posts Tagged ‘memoir’

Write a Life Event Poem

April 19, 2012 4 comments
Title page from the second edition of A Memoir...

Title page from the second edition of A Memoir of Jane Austen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Memoir seems to be a hot genre at present. Everywhere I look I find courses on writing it, sites to encourage it, challenges that require it.

All writers use elements of memoir each time they sit down to a keyboard. The act of writing itself teems with memoir elements.

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt merely brought it out of the shadows and onto a broader page for viewing. Poetry rides in a horse called sensory memory. That horse’s saddles bags are filled with personal experiences, perceptions, life’s illusions, and emotive qualities. The poet’s spurs are used to guide, not goad her mount toward an end goal.

A life event is by definition a memory that has changed a person’s perspective, at the very least. It probably also changed the person’s life in some way. All of us have such experiences, and sooner or later, we write them out for others to see. The following poem is my offering for this prompt of “Write a Life Event Poem.” Enjoy.

Shattered Glass and Mental Mirrors

Fractured images greeted me

With wide-open eyes that day,

Leaving behind panic, dismay,

Never thoughts of revelry.

Beyond doctors and onto life,

I built myself a future,

Complete plan to fight any strife,

To cut losses and suture

Together paths for new learning

Canes, dogs, all necessary

For work within limits, churning

With needs that I not tarry.

Years passed, moving toward this place

I come to with verse’s words,

Telling tales of things done and faced

This group of kindest souls, this space.

© Claudette J. Young 2012

Writing for Definition and Enjoyment

February 29, 2012 4 comments


Writers are forever looking for material to use for a journal article or magazine, characters or plot fragments for stories, workable settings for novels that don’t require major research, and a niche to market their work.

During this past month’s blogging challenge, those writers who’ve managed to follow-through each day have also upped their A-game in material. Some of the challenged writers kept their posts closely related to those subjects that they’d already fostered on their blogs.

Others looked at the “relative” nature of their ordinarily chosen subjects, and either expanded on them or moved to relate them to additional topics that weren’t usually equated with them.

Either strategy was legitimate. Also, such strategies created new perspectives and approaches toward future writing projects. Any time a writer can pull that off is a good day.

Since I took the challenge literally, I came away with material for memoir, essays, poetry, stories, books, and the list goes on. The constant reliving of details and personal responses allowed me to find new characters that had stories to tell. Poetry flowed within each memory, whether as a retelling of it or simply as a visceral impression and emotional recapping of it.

It hadn’t occurred to me at the beginning of this assignment that I would have such a strong emotional reaction to those recollections from so long ago; recollections that were incomplete and, sometimes, beyond vague.

This learning experience has opened up areas of writing that I hadn’t seriously considered before. I might have toyed with an idea here and there, but I hadn’t pinned down those ideas with any certainty.

Suddenly, I was seeing plots, twists, character development and settings that had never occurred to me before. And if I wasn’t seeing fiction, the brain was in overdrive about poetry or non-fiction pieces that could go to this market or that one.

Some days I felt like a voyeur as I took note of how I approached a subject differently than I would have two months before, and how my style shifted with each person I chose to write about. Some style elements remained fairly constant, while others wavered or developed new execution phases.

Prior to this, I had only foggy understanding of how my style shifted and when. That’s cleared up for me now.

I finally set my future writing projects and knew what I would tackle in the months ahead. The projects haven’t changed, but how I handle them will change. I’ve already come to that conclusion.

This challenge has given me more than its creators could ever imagine. It gave me a closer look at myself and why I choose to write what I do and how. It gave me a clearer picture of what my future will look like and my place in it. And if gave me the ability to focus on one aspect of a project (each day’s post) to the exclusion of everything else around me for the time I was working on it.

All of these things have come from a simple writing challenge. In some ways it doesn’t matter what the prompt was. It could have been anything, as long as I could relate to it enough to accept the challenge and stay focused on it.

In other respects, because I chose to deal with personal family members and issues, I came away a winner, regardless of who finishes first or who writes the most, etc. I came away with intangible bits of myself that I didn’t know I was missing until now. I regained an ability to focus on one project at a time until it was complete. And I learned that I thoroughly enjoy writing in areas that I hadn’t concentrated on before.

I think that’s pretty good for one month of writing. Later tonight I’ll do one last post on this subject to finish out the month. I’m running a day behind right now. I’ll do one more post on family and how I define it and experience it.

Tomorrow my subject prompt will change. I look forward to seeing what it will be and I look forward to meeting new friends along this road of discovery called LIFE.

Shadowed Memories of Bygone Days

February 16, 2012 4 comments


“Don’t touch that bed” must have rang out many times on that drizzly cold day back when I was so small. Mom always contended that my great-grandmother’s bed was a prized and sacrosanct object to be avoided at all costs.

I have only one memory of that great lady of the South. Mother and I were visiting. Baby brother was still “in arms,” as they said back then. I don’t recall who else was there, other than it was a woman; probably Dad’s mother or one of his sisters. The vague memory I have of our matriarch ebbs away further with each passing year.

Her meticulous home with its furnishings reflected who she was as a person. Her bedroom and the backyard are the clearest images I have of that day.

A tall sea of white bed linens fosters an itch in my palms. The sheets and coverlet look so crisp, so pure. I know that under those bedclothes are feather beds half as thick as I am tall. I can imagine well how soft these must be for sleeping because I sleep on my own, thinner, feather-bed at home. I keep my hands clasped behind my back.

Mom told me to touch nothing, and she’d positioned her Shaker chair to watch me through the bedroom door from the living room.

Narrow, multi-paned windows reach from my waist to near the ceiling, swathed in sheer white nylon curtains with their ruffles and frills; very girly. Stark walls resist the need for ornamentation that clutter rather than emphasizes. Shaker chairs in here, too, sit as if waiting for someone to occupy them while putting on socks and shoes.

In one corner a small round table exhibits a Victrola, its horn pointed toward the front window. At near eye-level for me, I can see the arm resting, waiting for the record to spin and for someone to flip the head and place it on the grooves. The crank hangs, unmoving, tempting.

I reach out to feel its smoothness and hear “Don’t touch!”

Questing hand retreats in a snap of muscle and chagrin. Too dangerous. Everything is too dangerous in this room filled with white.

Outside in the narrow backyard, new spring green is taking hold of everything in view. The back fence keeps chickens and other stock from roaming around the house. A fine mist envelopes me as I explore the cistern area, looking for early blossoms. The trees have begun to bud but remain barren to the eye.

Mom will be upset with me. Sunday shoes, wet grass, Great-grandmother’s clean floors. Not good, not good.

No lecture!

I’m the only one left who can attest to this short episode in my life. Perhaps that’s why I try to hang onto it as hard as I do. Great-grandmother died not too long after that day. My Dad’s mother and my own are both gone as well. Only I remember the day of drizzle, white linens, and a silent Victrola.