Memoir Writing: Making the Most of What You Have

by Matilda Butler on January 9, 2018

Writing Prompt LogoPost #234 – Women’s Memoirs, Writing Prompt – Matilda Butler

Memoir Writers Can Recycle Too

Memoir writingNo. I’m not talking about re-using, re-purposing, or recycling. At least not in the usual way that we mean those words. I’m talking about words, sentences, and paragraphs rather than paper, metal, and glass.

This idea came to me while waiting for a chamber orchestra concert to begin. I was reading the program notes about the second piece of the evening — Harpsichord Concerto in D minor by J.S. Bach. The description of the piece began in a breathless manner:

“Bach was busy, starting with two wives and 20 children.”

It was hard to read on as I felt exhausted. Who wouldn’t be tired at the mere thought of 20 children. But read on I did. The notes continued:

“No wonder he recycled and rearranged so much of his music rather than start every piece from scratch.”

Wait a minute. Bach recycled? Bach rearranged? That made me think about writers. Many of us believe each piece should be entirely fresh. If we’re invited to provide a guest blog, we come up with a new topic and look for a fresh approach to the topic. Nothing wrong with that.

memoir writingBut if Bach could recycle and rearrange, maybe it’s all right for memoir writers as well.

We need to look at all that we’ve written after putting on our “objective” glasses. Think of different topics you’d like to write about, you’d like to share in published articles, you’d like to contribute to a blog, you’d like to give as a speech or workshop…all drawing on material you have already written.

Look at your writing from different angles. Look for themes. Look for different audiences. Look for craft of writing examples. Look for how-to tips. No. Don’t start writing new pieces. Look at how you might do some cut and paste. Maybe in one piece you started a theme, but didn’t fully elaborate. This might point you in a publishing direction. If you have a possible online journal where you might submit, look at its themes or audience and see which of your pieces might fit. Explore how you can get more out of what you have either started or already completed.

As a final bonus, in looking at your writing from the past couple of years, you may find some pieces that with just a little polishing are reusable, recyclable.

Not interested in publishing? Remember, your storytelling can be turned into fabulous birthday, anniversary, and other holiday gifts. By starting now, you can choose different pieces of your writing for various family members as well as friends. These make cherished gifts.

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