Thursday, July 16, 2015

Writers Use Memories and Life Experiences

I was reminded of this quote when I read a new submission from one of the women who belongs to my online writers group.She wrote a wonderful piece on moving that was filled with emotion and painted a fine picture of all that comes with moving from the safe to the unknown. 

She wrote about this life experience because it is a memory from decades ago. Her husband had just finished graduate school and now they are retired folk. The life experience was filed away in her memory bank, then drawn out to write the story. 

I attended a workshop on memoir a few years ago. The leader, Carolyn Hall, said something in reference to memoir writing that stayed with me. We write to taste life twice. and another quote from the same person is also memorable for me. Go into the attic of your mind. 

We do taste life twice when we write memoir or even when writing fiction or a personal essay based on a life experience. Or a poem. The poems in Ronda Miller's fine book of poetry, Moon Stain, which I reviewed here recently, are about her life experiences, good and bad. In fact, I used life experience in the title of that post. 

Why do we want to go back and relive an experience? If it's a good one, there's not much doubt as to why we want to relive it. If it's a darker event in our life, we may need to look at it again from a different perspective--years later. Writing about a bad experience sometimes helps us understand it better, as well as ourselves.

I definitely loved the quote about going into the attic of your mind. What a picture that gives us. Our life experiences are stored away at the uppermost part of our mind, just like the old photo albums and special dresses safely put away in trunks in your grandparents' attic. They reside there without bothering anyone. One day you suddenly feel a need to visit the attic and look at your life experiences. They formed you into the person you are today, both good and sad happenings. 

Fiction writers often use a snippet of their own life to add to their novel. They let a character experience something they had done in their growing-up years or college days. Poets do the same at times. Some do it subconsciously while others are perfectly aware that they are dragging something from their past out of the attic of their mind. 

Your life experiences and mine are completely different. It's one reason we write stories or essays or poems that are worlds apart. Our memories can be the fuel that ignites our creativity. 

Take time to visit your mind's attic and see what you find. 

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