Zen and the art of memoir

streamofconsciousness6In the Stream of Consciousness Series above, I dribble house paint randomly on a five-foot canvas and then see what kind of image speaks to me and paint it in. Boy on Bike (left) and Will No One Listen (right). www.carolineallen.com

I’m coaching several clients on memoir. One of the single most difficult aspects of writing memoir is writing about childhood events in scene rather than summary.

It can be painful to relate incidents from our lives that we would rather summarize. Explaining them in visceral detail brings back the moment so intensely that we have to feel it all over again. What did your mother look like at that time? What did she smell like? What was the texture of her skin?

This can be true in novel writing too. Many fictionalized scenes connect to stories from our lives — how could they not?

We smell, we touch and we enter a place of depth. It’s difficult to stay in the scene and write it til its end, to include all the senses, to relate it fully. It’s difficult, but it’s essential — for the sake of good writing, for the sake of engaging the reader fully, for the sake of the healing that can happen for you the writer.

If you find a section of your memoir less than compelling, revisit it. Stay in the moment. Write it word for word, sense for sense. Cry or laugh or scream or glory with that moment. Don’t project ahead to the next event or scene. Just stay with that one scene. Breathe. Write.



One thought on “Zen and the art of memoir

  1. It’s simple. Storytelling is broken online. We’ve fixed it.

    Here are some of the highlights:

    Heekya is the Wikpedia of Stories, a social storytelling platform that is changing the way consumers create, share, and discover stories. Free. Fun. Easy. 60 seconds. See it here: http://heekya.com/preview.php
    What you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) drag and drop story editor. Import all media (photo, video, text, and audio) from third party services (Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, etc.)
    Users grab and embed Heekya story widget across social networks (Facebook, MySpace, et. al) blogs (wordpress, blogger, twitter) personal websites and via e-mail and instant message.
    Ability to re-mix and mashup other stories, retelling them from a consumers own vantage point, that will keep user engagement levels high and attract more traffic virally, as people share and re-share stories.

    Storytelling is at the core of human existence. We’re building Heekya to unlock powerful stories of people all over the world and empower them to share their story with anyone, anywhere, anytime.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s