Monday 25 March 2019

Reflections on Memoir Workshop Three

Last Saturday was dominated for me by the third of four memoir workshops at Bishop Auckland Town Hall¶.

All kinds of writers. 
The twenty writers are all very keen and bring with them a range of experiences and writing from family history, lifestyle, memories of specific incidents and writing projects ranging from life-cycle, specific memories, science fiction, dystopian worlds, filmic perceptions and -  of course the experience of growing up in a family.

The forms these writers favour include the long and short story, film type treatments, ghost stories and family anecdote. All these writers are aiming to develop their writing and produce good work. My aim is to support and encourage these writers introduce and develop principles of writing and creativity to all their forms and projects. 
Very focused.
Occasionally this feels to me like juggling with butterflies. But still I feel that this diverse group of writers embrace the new dimensions of the writing process and pluck from the ideas inspiration which applies to their own writing projects.
In each of these workshops my strategy is to communicate the principles that have emerged for me during thirty years of writing with an open mind and an engaged imagination. This has produced 20 odd published novels and short stories as well as newspaper articles and the more ephemeral and possibly newly engaging writing of posts such as this here on Lifetwicetasted.
I think  in my case all this has kind of worked. My hope with these workshops that such openness, imagination and inspiration Will lead these writers into new fields, develop their already existing writing skills, and help them find a form of memoir, or fiction based on memoir, which is true to their own experience.
The attention and feedback from this great range of writers continues to be rewarding. One writer came into this third workshop saying ‘I’ve been writing every day since last time. I’m inspired.’ And since the workshop I have an email from another writer saying, … after the session I floated down you gate Street buoyed up by the creativity I had absorbed.’


These Memoir Workshops have been hard work - complex both to prepare and present. But so much worth it – it has restored my faith in determined and talented writers.
A Palimpsest of Continuing Inspiration,
This one referring to wild swimming for
my novel The Bad Child.
Postscript 1: You might be interested to know that one part of our discussion on Week Three was about keeping relevant images before you as you write. This involves the creation of a palimpsest*of writing inspiration, pinned and pasted up on white boards, black boards, kitchen walls, or toilet walls to act as subliminal inspiration for the writing project, feeding the conscious and subconscious mind between writing sessions and keeping the ideas buzzing ready for the next writing session.
Postscript 2: We also discussed the use of the short story form to develop a longer series of linked stories to create a memoir. An interesting construct.
Postscript 3: We also discussed how to use concentric circles to develop more lateral thinking in terms of creating memoir and fiction related memoir. I will describe this in detail on my next post here on Lifetwiceasted.

In Workshop Four – the last in the series we will be thinking about –

Ø Creating links between elements of the longer story/memoir.
Ø Exploring the protocols for syntax and layout of your work for strange-readers.This will include agents and editors, your best friends and neighbours. It’s like sending your children out for an examination in their best clothes with their shoes polished.

* PALIMPSEST: something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.

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