A Day in the Company of Memoir Writers
Spending time with other memoir writers is triggering a high level of motivation for me as i write my 1950s school memoir. Attending a writing course is definitely something I recommend to all who wish to lift their writing to a new level.
- Attending a Memoir Writing Course
- A Day filled with Energy
- Ideas and Inspiration
- Lifting the level of Writing
- Writing your Memoir or Life Stories
Attending a Memoir Writing Course
As some of my regular readers may know, I am currently writing a memoir of my years at primary school in the 1950s, to coincide with my school centenary in 2013. I've been working on recording anecdotal stories for this for about a year. Now the time has come to organise the stories and write the book. It is a challenging but exciting time.
Consequently, when I saw a six session course on memoir writing advertised, I was quick to apply. The course leader is one of New Zealand's most published and respected women writers, Fiona Kidman, who has also published her own two memoir books. There were only fourteen places available and I knew I had to be one of those attending.
The course consists of six Saturday sessions over three months and is in Wellington, about a two hour drive away from my home. The cost of the course is about one week of my pay, a lot of money for someone who works only part of each year. However, knowing my passion for writing and the project I'm currently working on, my husband told me to go for it, we'll worry about it if you get accepted! Opportunities like this do not come along every day.
I applied, was accepted and yesterday I drove to Wellington and attended my first session.
A Day filled with Energy
Having to start early morning while it was still dark, I drove off filled with anticipation. I wasn't disappointed. The course members were all extremely interesting people, at all stages of their writing development. Two course members have published non-fiction books, but many others have not attempted very much writing before. All have interesting stories they wish to tell.
The course is being held at The Thistle Inn, Wellington's oldest existing hotel and so this itself created a positive atmosphere for memoir writing. The original hotel was a base for the whalers of days long ago when they were in port and the current bulding was built in 1866.
Through the oral sharing of life stories throughout the day, there was a high energy level througfhout the day, course members feeding off the energy of others.
Ideas and Inspiration
As all memoir writers know, someone else's story can trigger a memory from one's own life. You can imagine a room filled with potential memoir writers, all eager to learn about the craft of writing, all being inspired by the others around them.
The atmosphere in the room rose and fell as we listened to stories about birth, death and marriage, about travel and adventures, about very ordinary but inspiring family and school life and about relationships.
In between all this sharing were words of wisdom from Fiona herself, channelling the stories, contributing her own tried and tested methods on how to best handle the stories we have to tell.
Lifting the level of Writing
We had two occasions for writing during the day and, because of the positive and inspiring atmosphere, none of us found it difficult to rattle off a piece of prose and a poem. Some attendees confessed they'd never written poetry before, yet each piece, written in ten minutes, was incredible!
I believe that as we were surrounded by other writers, in the company of one of the best New Zealand has to offer, the level of our writing was lifted.
Writing your Memoir or Life Stories
We all have stories to tell and these stories need to be written down. No matter how ordinary you feel your life may be, there are stories that are important to preserve.
You may not wish to publish these, but what a legacy you're leaving future generations of your family if you write your stories down. Don't leave it until it's too late.
I know my 1950s school memoir won't be my last. I already have two more projects I hope to tackle in the future.
Meanwhile, I need to get back to concentrating on my current project. The next few months will be weeks of high motivation for me as I continue driving to Wellington every second Saturday for my memoir writing course.
Other articles by Val Mills:
A Writer's Weekend retreat, Diary Excerpts
A Penny Worth of Sweets - A Snippet of 1950s Life
Teenage Dating Etiquette in The 1960s
Literary Walk, Dunedin, New Zealand
2 August 1911 - One Hundred Years Ago
If you have stories you would share with others, Wikinut is the place for you. You can start writing today by becoming an active Wikinut writer. Click here for more information.