Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Second Helping

During the convention I attended this past week-end, something one of the workshop presenters said has stayed with me. It keeps popping up in my mind at the oddest times. It must mean it's saying something special to me. Why else would it come to me while I'm unloading the dishwasher or emptying the trash?

The workshop dealt with writing memoir, and even though there was a lot of good material presented, the one thing that I remember the most is this. Writing memoir is like tasting life twice. We, who write memoir, have the great good fortune to relive the important things in our lives through the written word. Surely, they are important parts of our lives, or we would not remember them so clearly. Something about the event impressed us so much that it stays in our mind until we reach in and pull it out again.

It might be a pleasurable happening or could be a tragedy we experienced. Either way, writing about it allows us to re-examine that part of our life and perhaps see it from a different perspective after many years have rolled by. If it's a happy moment that we experienced, we get to experience that euphoria once again. If it's a sad time, maybe we taste it again with new understanding. Maybe we can finally realize what it did to us as a person.

Tasting life a second time through memoir brings benefit to both the writer and the reader. During the award ceremony at the convention, the contest manager mentioned that Memoir was the category with the greatest number of entries. He also said that, if you placed in that category, you should feel very satisfied as it was the most competitive.

I received an Honorable Mention for my story "Grandma, Raspberries and Cream" which allowed me to go back and taste an experience with my grandmother and grandfather again. It was not a happy time, as Grandpa was dying of cancer and had asked to see me, a child of nine. He lived in a boarding house and my grandmother had come to nurse him in his final days. They had been separated for many years, but she never hesitated to come when he needed her. I traveled alone on a train to spend a few days with them. There was so much at the time that I didn't understand, but I found that writing about it all these years later made many things more clear.

Try writing a slice of your past life. Enjoy your second helping.


  1. I love memoir too Nancy - not only writing it, but also reading it.

  2. Would love to see your writing again, Gigi. wac is waiting. :)

  3. Great way to describe memoir writing, and how true those words are.