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Re: Trying To Find a Focus for Memoirs

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It sounds like you actually do have more than one book's worth of stories to tell.  Finding a theme is hard, I'm still working on it.  And although I felt at first that I had very few stories to tell, I now think that I have enough themes to make maybe a couple of memoirs.  Some authors have many more.  Whenever I have a thought about an incident or thread of a story, I make a short (or long if I'm so lucky) note file in a writing folder (I use digital, but paper would work).  Those notes pile up quickly.  When I make time to write, I choose one of those notes to write about, if something else is not on my mind already.  I collect each of these "stories" in a folder.  Gradually, categories or themes emerge, and I make folders for each of those themes.  At that point, I'm still not sure (I am very indecisive...) whether that category / theme will become a chapter in a memoir, or or be the actual theme / outline for a book-memoir that contains many stories related to it.  Obviously there is some overlap, but I believe that as I keep writing I will have ideas about solutions.  I am finding that some of my themes are taking off, so I am taking that as confirmation and encouragement to pursue those for now, and the others later.  

 

So, bottom line, I am suggesting that you *not* worry about focus at the beginning, but much later.  Write it all now, one story at a time.  I am looking forward to hearing how you decide to move forward, and what has worked for others.

 

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Re: Trying To Find a Focus for Memoirs

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I really appreciate this question, the search itself is valuable. After growing up with much violence, most siblings in my family chose to misrepresent facts to their kids, who are all adults now with kids of their own. Part of that technique robbed my experience of truths we shared, as well as ways our parents changed as they aged. As youngest, I knew what older siblings did not (do not), and as aunt to their kids I was asked not to reveal what my aging siblings still hide.

 

You'll find your path to tell your truth, whether anyone else agrees or not. My suggestion is to keep paper handy, and when particularly intense, lightning-bolt quick impressions emerge, trap them with words. You may not always know their significance, as our minds are built to protect us so that we can move out of chaotic circumstances. A trigger may be anything: a shaft of light across a window, the scent of a soap, a color's shade. Once you trust yourself enough to recognize the impactful quality of a thing, and capture just your immediate impressions, you're on your way. The how, when, where details may or may not come at first. But do write your truth, be brave. 

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Re: Trying To Find a Focus for Memoirs

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I've only written one thing in my life and it was a memoir. I had a defining moment while on patrol inside the DMZ in Korea in 1980. My army career ended and my life plans changed forever. The book I wrote is called OinK! Only in Korea!. A memoir comes from a vivid memory and a strong desire to get the story out. For some reason, I knew at the time that something great was happening to me. It was well before the digital age but I managed to save some rare news clippings and I did get to take a few pictures with a 110 cartridge camera (remember those, nice to be talking to some one who does). 

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Re: Trying To Find a Focus for Memoirs

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@loveabull wrote:

Many people have said I have a bunch of books in me. But a focus, where to begin? Loss? Losing two daughters? A diagnosis of bi-polar-hey can happen to the best of us and the right meds...well it's amazing...Transgender issues, being the child of an alcoholic parent and family tradition...I've read enough memoirs without half the drama of real life. How do I find my focus?, This is where it all started. This is where we begin. I have no idea.


Consider this..............

 

A few years ago I realized there might come a time when I wouldn;t be able to remember many of the things about my past and certainly not with the same clarity.

 

I'm fortunate that I've lived the majority of my life in the roughly the same geographical area so I decided I would spend some time each weekend - weather permitting - traveling around and photographing all those areas and things most familiar to me and especially where important events and milestones toolk place.

 

The hospital where I was born - where I kissed the first girl - different buildings I live in - etc

 

Sort of a video diary to look at later when maybe a picture will be help to jog a memory

 

I figure even if I don;t ever use it - I've added a short narrative to each photograph to maybe give it some significance to others

( " China if You're Listening - Get Trumps Tax Returns " )

" )
" - Anonymous

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Re: Trying To Find a Focus for Memoirs

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I agree that it's very important to leave a memoir of our lives for our families and those to come. Too many times, we clear out a parents' home only to find old photos with no names, dates or places, articles of clothing and small items that are very old. I don't think that we have to reveal everything of ourselves to our descendants, but a few chapters about the different times of our lives. Last year, I gave my daughter, who lives 800 miles away, and has 2 small children, 2 photo albums of family pictures when she grew up as well as those taken well before she was born. It meant a lot to her to be able to have her memories to share with her children. 

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Re: Trying To Find a Focus for Memoirs

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I’m no expert in writing a memoir, or writing anything for that matter. However, I’ve been doing a lot of it for much of my life, especially lately and I can tell you how I go about it.

 

I never thought about writing a memoir until my younger sister died about five years ago. Her daughters began to ask me about their mother as a child and I became aware that she had shared with them few of our experiences in growing up.

 

I remembered when I was a child and I would ask my mother and grandmother to tell me about when they were growing up and their answer would be that they “were never a child”. I don’t know if their childhood had been painful and they didn’t want to think about it, or they didn’t remember it, for some reason. Perhaps they thought it was boring or just wanted to get rid of me. These are questions for which I have no answers but I wish some of their experiences had been passed down. I have no children but I decided to share with my nieces some of the stories of how we grew up. I think it helped that I called them “Family Stories” instead of a “Memoir”.

 

To me writing about my life is a very daunting thing. I have lived 72 years, so far. It’s difficult to write about almost ¾ of a century, however it’s not difficult to write a single story. When a memory is triggered in some way and I think of an experience I can write about it in the same way that I might relate it to a friend. Once I began it seemed that most everything triggered a memory and at times I wished I could write more than one story at a time. I keep a journal in which I write down any dreams that I have.

 

At the time I began this project I didn’t know about this site, but when I discovered it I found it to be very helpful. I’m sorry that this group has pretty much died out, but when I first got involved there were several people posting and each month there would be a topic or a question that always seemed to make me think of something to say. I still check back a couple of times a week to see if anyone has posted.

 

I write my stories on the word processing program on my computer and then copy and paste them on here. I haven’t looked into having anything published, but before long I have a lot of “stories” to share with my nieces and I think it’s helpful for me to have posted them on line first. Up until now so much of my writing has been only shared with a professor, therapist or put away in a journal. For me it’s very beneficial to “go public” at least in a limited way.

 

I hope this will prove helpful, but I think the most important part is to start somewhere and write. So many things never get written at all because the author wants to do it “right”. I hope to be able to read some of your stories.

 

 

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Trying To Find a Focus for Memoirs

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Many people have said I have a bunch of books in me. But a focus, where to begin? Loss? Losing two daughters? A diagnosis of bi-polar-hey can happen to the best of us and the right meds...well it's amazing...Transgender issues, being the child of an alcoholic parent and family tradition...I've read enough memoirs without half the drama of real life. How do I find my focus?, This is where it all started. This is where we begin. I have no idea.

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