Friday, August 25, 2017

Memoir Your Way

Memoir Your Way, Tell Your Story through writing, recipes, quilts, graphic novels and more was written by the Memoir Roundtable.

CHAPTER 1 - "We say scrap it, quilt it, write it or cook it up so the family can have a tangible piece of their heritage," is the basic advice of the Memoir Roundtable, a group of six writers, crafters and workshop leaders. "When we turn memories into memoir, we build the bridge between the past and the future."

They describe the memoir as two stories - what you remember and what it means to you. Each author gives specific steps you can follow.

The book is easy to read and gives lots of information with photos showing what they are describing. It was copyrighted in 2016, so it should contain up-to-date information.

CHAPTER 2 - Five Simple steps to tell a true story was written by Joanne Lozar Glenn, an award-winning writer and memoir workshop leader. She believes in following author Anne LaMotte's advice to write small.

"Show us the moment," she advises. Think of yourself as a camera, focus on your theme, and arrange the scenes in an artful way.

Glenn gives us ideas on how to start, include the smallest details of your life in your own voice when crafting your story. Then treat your writing like play doh and re-shape it as you edit.

CHAPTER 3 - Around the Table: food and cookbook memoirs by Dianne Hennessy King, public television producer, cookbook editor, and cultural anthropologist, includes information on theme and finding your voice.

She offers 10 questions to jog your memory as you put your collection together. She gives various ways to present items that can be used to link the family generations, such as CDs, videos, books, articles or blogs.

CHAPTER 4 - Reinvent your Scrapbook by Katherine Nutt, memoir teacher, educational game inventor, and scrapper. She writes about what future generations may like to know and capturing these life events through photos, drawings and old scrapbook items. This might be a good way for visual thinkers to show and tell their stories. She briefly mentions digital scrapping and that mini memoir scrapbooks make nice gifts.

CHAPTER 5 - Create your Memoir as a Graphic Novel by Natasha Peterson, a content producer, author and graphic novel creator.

This is a fun chapter. She explains elements of graphic novels and stresses that there are no hard and fast rules. Do it your way.

CHAPTER 6 - Memoir Quilts, A Way to Celebrate Lives by Linda Pool, nationally known quilter and American Folk Art Museum winner. She says memory quilts are a lot more than casual quilts we had as children.

I can relate to this as my mother used scraps of old clothing and would embroider dates or short information in the squares. But these were made to be used, not saved, and they did not survive our childhood.

Pool mentions themes for the quilts, such as special moments, pets, trips, careers and many more. Memorial quilts can preserve family history and honor special people.

CHAPTER 7 - In Nuturing the Young Storyteller, Nadine Majette James, (children's literary expert and speaker) recommends involving children in family memoir projects. Help them tell their tales, she writes and gives suggestion for different age groups. Share your memoir projects with them. This gives them a sense of family history.

I now have a young grandson, so I am paying special attention to this chapter.

CHAPTER 8 - You Are the Bridge: Traditions and Heritage by Dianne Hennessy King.

A memoir is simply telling your story. You can start getting more family history by contacting family elders and friends. If you want to go further, this book gives print and digital resources for each type of memoir project.

She stresses that as you honor your ancestors' stories, you need to include your own. "Today is tomorrow's history."

Memoir Your Way includes sample projects, lists of needed supplies, hints and guidelines for each type of memoir. It is definitely a "how-to" book, full of great ideas, yet easy to read and understand.

As a writer, I have been making notes on my family's background and also have kept scrapbooks for years, so I have a start, but I also plan to try some of these different ideas myself.

I also agree with what Glenn writes near the end about getting over your fear of writing. Remember, there is no wrong way to tell your story.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Elements of Style

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White today is often taken for granted, almost lost in the libraries of most writers, but it still offers specific help and is a helpful reference tool.

William Strunk Jr., an English professor at Cornell University, had the book privately printed in 1918 to help his students with grammar. Often referred to as that “little book,” The Elements of Style originally was 43 pages long and sold for 25 cents. It was published by Harcourt in 1920. 

Later, author E. B. White was commissioned in 1957 by Macmillan Publishing Co. to update the book, so it was available to the general public. It was titled Strunk and White Elements of Style.

He wrote that he could almost hear his professor giving commands about writing, such as “be concise,” omit needless words,” and “use the active voice.”

The elements of style One of Strunk’s former students, White is known for writing Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and a column for The New Yorker. He was commissioned in 1957 by Macmillan Publishing Co. to update the book, so it was available to the general public.
White wrote that he could almost hear his professor giving commands about writing, such as “be concise,” omit needless words,” and “use the active voice.”
In 2011, Time named it one of the 100 best and most influential books written on English.

The Elements of Style offers lots of good advice and is still important today. It offers a good review of basics. Sometimes it is fun to just browse through it and find words misused or unnecessary. It can remind us of little rules we may have forgotten, even after years of writing.

A bit of humor – Dorothy Parker was supposed to have said, “If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second-greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first-greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”

One of the first blogs I wrote in 2012 was about The Elements of Style. That blog shared information from two books written about that little book. Each author had a different view. You can check out their thoughts in the blog I wrote in 2012.

  • Stylized: A Slightly Obsessive History of Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style by Mark Garvey. I noted that he might have been slightly obsessed, but agreed that it was a must-have book.
  • Spunk & Bite: A Writer’s Guide to Punchier, More Engaging Language & Style, Arthur Plotnik, gives reasons why he thinks Strunk & White is too rigid for today’s changing world.

As I wrote back then: “Isn’t it great that we have access to such variety.” We have more information from which we can make up our own mind about how much we want to use from the various books and other writing advice.

Besides enjoying reading of these two books, I was thrilled to get a comment from Arthur Plotnik saying “It's always inspiriting to know of a balanced, thoughtful reading of my book, especially in relation to the iconic "The Elements of Style." Thank you, Jo. You blog spunkily and with bite. ---Art Plotnik

What an inspiring comment. Whether you ask a question, offer additional information, or just want to keep in touch.