Writing Alchemy – How Many Masks Are On Your Desk?

by Matilda Butler on June 9, 2010

catnav-alchemy-activePost #13 – Memoir and Fiction, Writing Alchemy – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

Writing Authentically about Others in Your Memoir, Even a Younger You

Writing ChecklistTen months ago, I started a series of videos. The first, The #1 Secret to Memoir Writing, focused on the notion of the “me” and the “I” in memoir. When is “me” really the “I”? I have nine more videos in that series planned, but not yet done. While they’re still on my to-do list, this week I found myself reading Julie Checkoway’s edited volume about writing and noticed a chapter by Alyce Miller that brought new insight to this same question.

That led me to create this week’s Writing in Five video about A Writer’s Persona. I hope you’ll gain a new perspective on writing and the roles we need to assume in order to write believably about others in our memoirs. As you’ll find in the video, persona comes from the word meaning mask. And, if your mind immediately went to the word mascara, as mine did, then you’ll be interested to know that mascara also comes from the word for mask. It seems that blackening the face was an early form of a mask and therefore the word mascara was used for the cosmetics product.

Unrelated to the video, but fun to learn about, is the story behind mascara. Of course, mascara was used by ancient Egyptian women, but I’m talking about the 20th century version of mascara. T. L. Williams, a chemist by trade, created a product for his sister Mabel in 1913. Mabel used this product, a combination of coal dust and Vaseline, to lengthen and darken her eyelashes. I don’t know if the effect was exactly what she wanted, but it seems that she thought it enough of a success that her brother called it mascara and began to sell it through mail order. What did Williams name his company? He combined the words Mabel and Vaseline to create what has become a large, successful cosmetics company — Maybelline.

Well, back to writing. Here’s this week’s Writing in Five. If you want to share your thoughts on this topic, please let us a Comment below.


We’ve provided this link to Amazon in case you’re interested in Julie Checkoway’s book Creating Fiction. [The small fee we collect from Amazon for books sold through this site helps support womensmemoirs.com.]



{ 1 trackback }

Tweets that mention Writing Video — Memoir Writing Blog -- Topsy.com
June 9, 2010 at

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Dawn Thurston June 10, 2010 at

I read “Creating Fiction” some time ago and thank you for bringing to life one of its important concepts through your engaging video. You’ve creating a helpful teaching tool with these videos, Matilda. I enjoy short stories and appreciate the heads-up about Alyce Miller.

Matilda Butler June 10, 2010 at

Hi Dawn:
Thanks for watching our most recent writing video. Your feedback helps us stay focused. We really are trying to make these five minutes long (hence our name Writing in Five) but haven’t quite mastered the brevity we aspire to. This one is eight minutes. Fortunately, since we do one a week, we should be able to figure out how to make shorter videos.

Do you have a favorite topic/author you think we should cover?

Michelle Stratton June 13, 2010 at

This topic reminded me of the poem, “We Wear the Mask,” by Paul Laurence Dunbar. His context was very different; however, it could apply to what the writer goes through when creating point of view in narration.

Matilda Butler June 13, 2010 at

Michelle:
Thanks for your comment. I didn’t know that poem but immediately went to Google to find it. I agree with your analysis. If we are aware of the mask of each character in our novels, short stories, or memoirs, then perhaps we will be less likely to forget the point of view or to make all characters just replications of our selves or have these people in our stories do things that are “out of character.”
-Matilda

Leave a Comment

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