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Memoir Writing Prompt: The Process of Discovery

One of my blogger BFFs is Sherri Matthews who writes A View From My Summerhouse. She recently tagged me in a writing process extravaganza. I eventually will take up the baton she’s handed me and write that post! In the meantime, check out her beautiful blog. If you aren’t already a reader, you will be!

I did a poll a while back asking about the best days for me to post from the standpoint of readers. The vote was overwhelmingly to keep the days the same: Mondays and Thursdays. I plan to do that. I am going to be hunkering down and getting more work done on my memoir now because my tutorial at Stanford is scheduled for winter quarter. (How will I EVER get a draft finished in time?!) I’m not sure if I’ll be able to continue memoir reviews throughout this period, but hey, I could write reviews of individual poems or flash prose ;). Know that I want to keep writing the book-length reviews, but it won’t always happen. I need to keep my own book front and center throughout the winter.

Are you thinking that you might want to write a memoir some day? Or write down something that happened to you years ago? Are you already working on a memoir?

If your story involves either your nuclear family (now or then) or your childhood, I have an idea for some helpful pre-writing.

We have our stories in our minds. We know what people looked like, what our homes were/are like, inside and out, our neighborhoods, our schools, our workplaces. But when we go to write our stories, we forget that the reader isn’t privy to all this information. And we overlook what might be some of the most revealing parts of our stories. The prompt I thought up is a way of remembering those little forgotten pockets of information. Everything you write from this prompt won’t wind up in your completed manuscript, but I think of it as a process of discovery.

Envision the home where much of your interactions with family members took place. For each room of the house, write a very descriptive piece showing an event that occurred in that room. Don’t forget your brother’s bedroom, the basement, the bathroom. Every room.  Include specific details about the room.

What discoveries do you make?

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