Writing about place or the location of an event or experience can be an important element in memoir. It can play a vital role in your story or be the primary focus of your story. It can add significant meaning to your memoir. During this Telephone Based Round Table Discussion, Tracy Seeley, Shirley Showalter and Linda Joy Myers will discuss and be available to answer your questions about writing about place.
Event Title: Land That I Love: Writing About Place Date: Thursday May 12, 2011
Time: 4 PM PDT |5 PM MDT | 6 PM CDT | 7 PM EDT, for about 1 Hour
Cost: FREE FOR EVERYONE (NAMW Members–The dial in details can be found below–if you can’t see them, simply login to the member area to view this post. If you are not an NAMW member, simply sign up for this free call by using the form near the bottom of this page).
[ismember] Telephone Conference call-in number: (605) 475-4000
Telephone Conference call-in code: 230386*[/ismember]
Not Available for the Live Call? Post your questions in the comments section of this page OR email them to info@NAMW.org.
NAMW members will be able to access a link in the NAMW Member Area to DOWNLOAD the audio mp3 of this call following the event. Not a member? Sign up below and you will receive an email with a link to stream the audio from this call, within a week following the event.
The format for this call differs from our Monthly Member-only Teleseminars in that it is an informal discussion Roundtable that you can be part of to exchange ideas with not only the experts but other participants on the line. Besides offering you a direct connection with experts–a benefit that will help you to develop your ideas and hone your skills as you write, edit, revise, and publish your memoir–you will have the opportunity to develop relationships within the NAMW memoir writing community. Please join us for these special events that are open to the public.
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How do you write about a place that is very painful? I have written stories about certain difficult events, but it seems I get stuck when attempting to write about a place or time that is the height of the painful experience. So much so that I haven’t written in about 4 months. I’d like to finish getting it out so I can start crafting the whole memoir, but I always turn back and wimp out when I pull out the materials (court documents, my weekly recap of events written at the time, emails kept, etc..). Thank you.
First I want to acknowledge how hard it is to write about painful experiences. I work with people in the online workshops on their memoir, and one of the topics there is writing about, or around, painful experiences. I touch on it too in my book The Power of Memoir. One suggestion, is to write past it, if you can. Meaning, write what happens afterward and topics that come later if you can’t get into “it.” Research shows that writing lighter or happier stories is as healing as writing the darker stories. Or follow up a dark story with a lighter one. Make a list of events in the dark story to get it out of your head, but don’t write the whole story. Most of all, choose something you CAN write about to get back into your writing.
Good luck and I hope to be with you on the call today!
I love this presentation and all the insightful, thought-provoking comments made by the participants. I am teaching a class at the FGS Conference in Springfield, IL, this fall on “The Place of Place in Your Family History Narrative,” so I tuned in to this discussion with hopes that it would help me focus my thoughts and give me some new perspectives–which it did. All the things you said about visiting the places we’re writing about and considering how they shaped our lives is essential to understanding and communicating how we became who we are. The same is true, of course, for family histories. We need to visit are ancestors’ homelands and do the same kind of pondering: What was it like to live in this place when they lived here? In what way did it shape their lives? Then, like you said so well, we combine research with imagination to SHOW our ancestors living in their world at their particular time in history. Family historian Leslie Huber does this very well in “The Journey Takers.”
Your interview ended with a discussion of male writers who do a superb job evoking a sense of place in their memoirs. You mentioned Rick Bragg (a definite must-read), and several others. I’d also like to recommend Homer Hickam’s “Rocket Boys”
(West Virginia coal mining country), Jimmy Carter’s “An Hour Before Daylight” (Plains, GA, of course), and Bill Bryson’s “The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid” (1950s Iowa).
Thanks for your good work, Linda Joy.