Posts tagged as:

lifewriting

catnav-alchemy-activePost #77 – Memoir and Fiction, Writing Alchemy – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

3 Tips for Letting Time Work for You

By Pamela Jane Bell
Regular guest blogger, children’s book author and coach. Pamela is currently finishing her memoir. Pamela’s first book for adults, Pride and Prejudice and Kitties: A Cat-Lover’s Romp through Jane Austen’s Classic is now available.

Claudette Cobert in "It Happened One Night"

Claudette Cobert in "It Happened One Night"

A well-known physician noted that the most respected doctors, “are those who can step back and look at the big picture rather than simply react. In situations like this, it is best to: ‘Don’t just do something, stand there.’ ” *

Sounds like a smart doctor to me.  I have lots of stories about doctors who should have just stood there, but that’s another story.  The point here is that in some circumstances “just standing there” is the best advice for writers as well.  But I have a hard time doing it.

“Time is on my side,” the Rolling Stones sang.  But is time our friend, ­or our adversary?   Perhaps, because of the complexity of human life, it is both.  Still, my idea of a writer is someone who writes, not someone who waits.  I jokingly describe myself as a self-employed writer with a strict boss, but it’s not really a joke.  I have a difficult time putting aside a piece of writing or turning to another project when I’ve hit a roadblock with my manuscript.  Instead, I sit anxiously by its side, taking its temperature every five minutes.  But sometimes, in fact many times, walking away, at least for a while, is exactly what you need to do.

Below are three tips for letting time work its magic on your memoir, and why you should:

Writing Tip #1.  Nothing stays the samecoxingkill

Even when life appears to be standing still, it isn’t really.  It’s like the stream that always changes yet always stays the same.  It flows on, bringing new experiences and perspectives that enable you to see your story with fresh eyes.  Many things ­– a forgotten photograph, an unexpected trip, a dream – can yield a memory or insight that will help round out and deepen your story.

Writing Tip #2.  Let your subconscious work

Madeleine L’Engle, author of the famous children’s book, A Wrinkle in Time and several sequels, decided to give up writing on her 40th birthday after receiving yet another rejection notice.

“This was an obvious sign from heaven.  I should stop trying to write,” she wrote in A Circle of Quiet. “All during the decade of my thirties I went through spasms of guilt because I spent so much time writing, because I wasn’t like a good New England housewife and mother.  When I scrubbed the kitchen floor, the family cheered…with all the hours I spent writing, I was still not pulling my own weight financially.”

L’Engle proceeded to cover her typewriter and give in to misery only to discover later that her subconscious was at work on a novel about failure.

Trust yourself; your subconscious is working even when you aren’t.

Writing Tip #3.  Let time perform its magictime

In 1965, Katherine Anne Porter sat down to write a forward to her new collection of short stories.  She wrote about an unfinished story she had discovered in a box of old manuscripts.

“‘Holiday’ represents one of my prolonged struggles, not with questions of form or style, but my own moral and emotion collision with a human situation I was too young to cope with at the time it occurred; yet the story haunted me for years and I made three separate versions, with a certain spot in all three where the thing went off track.  So I put it away and…forgot it.  It rose from one of my boxes of papers, after a quarter of a century…as for the vexing question which had stopped me short long ago, it had in the course of living settled itself so slowly and deeply and secretly I wondered why I had ever been distressed by it…”

elixerTime is, indeed, a magic elixir.

What These 3 Writing Tips Mean to You

I’m not suggesting you wait a quarter of a century to finish your memoir or your novel!  It’s the willingness to step back, even for a day, that is important.  As my husband, John, always tells me: “Possess your soul in patience.”

For me, that’s an even greater challenge than scrubbing the kitchen floor.

*Douglas A. Drossman M.D.

{ 6 comments }

Memoir Writing Prompt: “Today I Want To…”

by Matilda ButlerSeptember 26, 2012
Memoir Writing Prompt: “Today I Want To…”

A new memoir writing prompt is designed to help you think (and write) about your current satisfaction/dissatisfaction with life, plan desirable changes, and then move forward with them. Writing helps you see where you want to go and how far you have come.

Read the full article →

Memoir Writing Prompts: Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries, No Really

by Matilda ButlerSeptember 24, 2012
Memoir Writing Prompts: Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries, No Really

What to include in your memoir — what to leave out. It all depends on what you want to do with your life cherries — flesh and pits alike.

Read the full article →

Memoir News: Join Us in Austin for 3 Writing Workshops

by Matilda ButlerMarch 18, 2012
Memoir News: Join Us in Austin for 3 Writing Workshops

Memoir Writing Conference — Register now for Story Circle Network’s Stories from the Heart Conference. See you April 13-April 15 in Austin.

Read the full article →

Memoir Writing Tip: Memoir Writers Are Not Victims

by Kendra BonnettMarch 2, 2012
Memoir Writing Tip: Memoir Writers Are Not VictimsMemoir Writing Tip: Memoir Writers Are Not Victims

Memoir writing is about celebrating our ability to rise above adversity, heal and share our lessons with others. Celebrate the memoir and the words of one of the great writing teachers of the 20th and 21st century, William Zinsser.

Read the full article →

Memoir Author Interview: Storm Large Talks about Writing “Crazy Enough”

by Matilda ButlerFebruary 1, 2012
Memoir Author Interview: Storm Large Talks about Writing “Crazy Enough”

Women’s Memoirs welcomes Storm Large, musician and author of Crazy Enough. Be sure to leave her a comment for a chance to win a complimentary copy of her new memoir.

Read the full article →

Writing Tips: A Sense of Place

by Matilda ButlerJanuary 24, 2012
Writing Tips: A Sense of Place

Memoir writers can find inspiration for understanding place through the works of painters.

Read the full article →
Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category StoryMap Category StoryMap Category StoryMap Category Writing and Healing Category Writing and Healing Category Writing and Healing Category Scrapmoir Category Scrapmoir Category Scrapmoir Category Book Business Category Book Business Category Book Business Category Memoir Journal Writing Category Memoir Journal Writing Category Memoir Journal Writing Category News Category News Category News Category