This past Thursday evening a member of my critique group, Sandra Warren, and I presented a workshop on writing memoirs. This was our debut session, hopefully the first of several to come. The venue was perfect for our endeavor, a small room inside an art gallery, The Arrowhead Gallery and Studios of Old Fort, North Carolina.
Sandra's two books about the experiences of military nurses during the Persian Gulf War gave her plenty of insight into writing about the lives of others.
We shared our techniques with an eager group of aspiring authors. We let them in on what worked for us and just as important, what didn't work for us. I wish I had someone to advise me when I was writing about Pilot Mountain School.
Then again, I'm sort of glad I didn't.
If I had not floundered around, flopping back and forth like the fish out of water that I was, I would have missed way too much. I'm thinking of all the personalities I might have by-passed in the desire to get it done. Royal personalities. Enriching personalities, both in my life and in the quality of the book.
I would have saved time. I would have saved energy. I would have come up with a different book entirely.
What I learned from book one proved invaluable to me as I worked through books two and three in the memoir genre. That's what we shared with the group, where to begin, what to do next, and next, and next. It wasn't as much a "how to..." kind of workshop as it was a "how we..." kind of sharing. What worked for me and what worked for Sandra were two completely different approaches.
The project I'm working on now is similar to Lessons Learned only this one is about a ball field. It will require interviews with personalities I can't wait to meet up with, royal personalities that will enrich my life and my manuscript. The lessons I learned and shared with the class last week will guide me along the way. I know where to start, how to research those dogging questions, how to get the manuscript ready to publish.
Here's where the adventure begins though, with the unknown ahead, the surprise obstacle lurking around the bend just waiting in the shadows to add a clinker to my progress. It will be there, rest assured. It's a part of the process I couldn't possibly explain in a writing workshop. It's too unknown. It's too personal. It's too valuable to avoid.
It's the joy of writing.
Catch of the day,