catnav-interviews-active-3Post #216 – Memoir Writing – Matilda Butler

How Do You Choose What to Write About?

Many who write sometimes wonder what they should be writing about, or if what they are writing matters, or how to choose what to keep out of all their stories and personal vignettes. For that reason, I was especially delighted to ask Anne Kaier, author of the new memoir: Home with Henry exactly this question.

I think you’ll find that the depth of her response gives us all something to think about. Her beautiful prose gives you a hint about how much you will enjoy her memoir.

Your Comment Just Might Win You a Free Copy of Anne Kaier’s Memoir

Anne has graciously offered us a free copy of her memoir for one of our lucky commenters. So leave your comment below about why you want this memoir or why her article means a lot to you or about a special animal in your life…a cat, or a dog, or a horse, or a gold fish, or other pets or near pets. Anne will choose one of these comments and will send you an autographed copy of her memoir.

Thank you Anne. We’re excited about this offer. And, of course, we are also pleased to be part of your blog tour.

One More Point…

And before I turn this over to Anne, I want to highlight two of her sentences in this response she sent me. You’ll see she writes:

“So what motivates me to write about one topic when I let others go?

The short answer is curiosity.” – Anne Kaier

I was drawn to this since one of my favorite Dorothy Parker quotes is:

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”
- Dorothy Parker

I’m so glad that Anne reminds us that curiosity drives our writing and I hope that curiosity will help all of you as you continue your writing.

WELCOME Anne to Women’s Memoirs. We are delighted to have you here today.

–Matilda Butler

Anne-Kaier-memoir-author

What Do I Choose to Write About?

by Anne Kaier

The ginger-haired neighborhood kid coming to scrounge some chocolate. A tiff with my friend. The brush of a summer night. All these solicit me as topics for essays or poems. But I don’t hare after each subject that presents itself. Nor do I keep a daily journal. So what motivates me to write about one topic when I let others go?

The short answer is curiosity. When the topic is something I don’t understand, I write about it. I often write about my relationship with my mother—fraught, complicated, loving—as so many mother-daughter relationships are. I feel impelled to do this, more so as I grow older. I want to understand what made her—an elegant Midwestern woman from a single parent home—raise me with élan but with a profound lack of imagination. She was beautiful. I am not. She was sexy—but for reasons I don’t yet completely understand, she couldn’t imagine a romantic future for a daughter who wasn’t as elegant as she was. She raised me to think no man would have me. I want to get to the bottom of this—and the only way is to write about it.

Anne-Kaier memoir authorWriting about my mother is an ongoing project. But to my surprise I kept a journal for a year—to chronicle my efforts to tame Henry, the feral cat who hid under my bed for six months after I’d picked him up on a busy suburban road. Every day, often at work when I should have been writing sales brochures, I made journal entries, driven by curiosity to write down every step in Henry’s progress. The more I wrote, the better I understood how to domesticate him. For the first three weeks I had him, I’d note how he hissed at me when I lay on my stomach, lifted up the bed skirt and tried to talk with him.

Then one morning he sat quietly when I pushed some kibble between my fingers in front of his whiskery face. I wrote down this new fact and followed up the thought with my leaking blue pen. What calmed him? The food, maybe. All throughout the year it took him to learn to trust a human being, I kept up “Henry’s Book,” a spiral notebook with lined green pages. When Henry revealed himself to be a sweet and loving creature, thoroughly tamed about a year after I brought him home, I stopped writing in the journal. It had served its purpose—except that it became the basis for Home with Henry: A Memoir. While I wrote the book itself—mainly a matter of typing up my journal entries, clarifying the story line and cleaning up the prose—Henry sat next to me, curled on an old club chair. “I’m thinking about you, Henry,” I’d say to him. He’d murmur softly, rearrange his ginger head on his paws and go back to sleep. He was loved, written about—known.

Thanks, Anne

Anne, thanks for visiting WomensMemoirs today. I know our readers will have lots to think about based on your article.

Be Sure to Leave a Comment

And to our readers…don’t forget to leave a comment for Anne. You can comment on what she said or why you want her memoir or on animals in your life. We’ll contact the winner to get an address.

Anne’s Book Trailer

Where You’ll Find Anne Kaier Next

On July 9, Anne will be on TheCatOnMyHead. Readers can click to head over that way in a few days.

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