Introduction to Memoir Writing
Why would you want to write a memoir?
What is a memoir anyway?
For the purpose of this writing course, we will loosely call memoirs any form of telling about the life you have lived. There are probably as many reasons to write memoirs as there are people who undertake the writing of them. I, myself, hold to several rationales. At the moment I think that the single most important reason is that science has demonstrated that the mind, like every other part of your body responds to exercising by rebuilding itself. You will be surprised how much of the memories you think you have lost will reappear, once you have begun to reconstruct your recall system.
In addition to the following instructions, you will find essays on the various other reasons for writing one’s essays, and discussion of books on memory recall I have found useful. And of course, there will be the ever popular bibliography of books I have found useful in thinking about memoirs. Feel free to suggest other books I might want to look at. If I find they work for me, I may include them in the bibliography.
How to use our assignments
The format we use in our classes, is that the half dozen or so writers I meet with sit round a table. Once we have had a few minutes to catch up with the lives of our gathered friends, I read the assignment that I have written for the next week's work, and the section of writing I have written in response to that assignment. You will see this information in each of the lessons. It is my hope that what I have written in my assignment or in my response to the writing will bring to mind some forgotten experience in the minds of the members of the symposium and they will bring their response to that writing to the next reading.
After I have read the lesson for the next meeting, then the assembled writers take turns reading what they have written. What they bring is always interesting, and seems always to strike a cord of memory in all the listeners. As it turns out, almost never is there a clear connection to the writing that is written in response to the assignments. On the other hand, it is almost always true that what has been written helps other people form new connections to long neglected areas of their memory banks.
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