Reading into Memoir

It’s all in the books.

I’ve been at an impasse on my memoir. After receiving an editor’s comments, of which I agree, I’m dazed to think how to go about incorporating her suggestions. “More about the birch tree.” Yep, I know I’ve got unused “thematic potential” here, as she says. I appeared to have dropped my family members! Since they were crucial to the beginning of my narrative, it is odd that I don’t make much mention of them later. My mention of spirituality and lack of continued development of my creative life fizzled. My theme of Finding Home needs to be woven stronger throughout.

And then I started reading a novel, “Crooked Little Heart” by Anne Lamott. To me, it reads like character studies with strong narrative, little dialogue or action. Paragraphs read like mini essays. Her narrative takes on consistent patterns of writing and word usage. Her characters evolve. I contrasted this writing to my memoir writing. I use lots of dialogue, I made chapters into essays, I varied sentence length. I need to evolve. Anne, you gave me some good ideas.

The more I read her book, the more I turn to the books I’ve read. A quick perusal of my bookcase and I remember the stories that sit in line like soldiers ready to aim and fire. I use these writers’ works as ideas in working my theme, characters and development of key story elements into my memoir. The more I read, the more I accumulate creative influence until finally, I’ve got ideas on how to work things better.

I am encouraged to continue reading and to continue shaping my memoir. It’s all in the books.

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