catnav-interviews-active-3Post #241 – Memoir Writing Tiny Tip – Matilda Butler



Memoir Writing Tiny Tip #12

Kona Coffee Beans and Memoir WritingAloha.

On a recent trip to Hawaii, I went out for my daily walk. I had my mind on photos, mainly photos of flowers, I could take to share with family and friends. So by the time I reached the Marriott Hotel, I was well into picture-taking mode. I already had snapped snowy white and fragrant plumeria blossoms, vibrant fuchsia bougainvillea, pineapple yellow hibiscus with deep orange centers, and blush pink ginger blossoms. As I walked on, past a small patch of Kona coffee bushes, I almost kept going. After all these were beans, not flowers. Then I doubled back.

Memoir Writing of StoriesIf you regularly follow WomensMemoirs, you know that I often find blogging ideas in the environment around me. And this was no exception. Look at the several photos I’ve posted. On each stem, you see coffee beans. Some are red, some a pale yellow, others still green.

Memoir writing and Kona coffee beansI knew that coffee beans did not all ripen at the same time. We have a friend who grew coffee beans on her small farm in the southern part of the Big Island. She told us the pickers came through every two weeks to pick the ones that we were ripe. Here was the clear proof.

While taking photos, I got to thinking about memoir writers and their stories. When we sit down to write, we often believe we are “ready.” And maybe psychologically we are ready to write. But not all of our stories may be ripe at the same time. Some may still be green and not ready to be picked and shared. It’s not easy to know which ones are green, yellow, or red. Knowing when a coffee bean is ready is much easier than knowing when a story is ready.

You’ll know. You’ll figure it out. Don’t rush yourself or berate yourself when the telling gets difficult. Maybe that particular story, or that part of a story, just isn’t ripe.

Memoir Writing Tiny Tip #12 in a Nutshell

1. Write what you can when the story seems ripe to you.

2. If the story isn’t ready to be told, move on to other stories or other aspects of the primary story that do seem ripe.

3. Processing stories, understanding their shape and color takes time. If a story is giving you a hard time, don’t worry. Move on to what is ready. Like the coffee pickers, come back in two weeks and see if the story has ripened. Consciously or subconsciously you will have been helping to move the story forward during that time.

4. And don’t ignore the story. Be sure to come back to check it again, to work on it again. At a certain point, it will be ready for you to write and share.


How This Tiny Tip Series Started

The idea for a series of short writing tips came to me while reading the program notes for a chamber music concert. I realized that many (well, ok, most) of my blog articles get to be long and often require you to do certain things — like write from prompts I’ve provided. And while I will continue with this type of longer article because I think they are of value, I realized that sometimes as writers we just want a little bit of information or a small new idea or a thought stated differently. We don’t have a lot of time.

That’s the concept behind each Tiny Tip. Just a nugget to give you something to think about as you go through your busy day.

Enjoy.

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