Taught by Carol Brennan King November 18, 2020
Let’s start with our assignment for December 2, since we are going to be enjoying our Thanksgiving Break next week.
New assignment: Think of an object that you value or any object of yours or in your house that comes to you. Write five different descriptions or perspectives or scenes with that object and your relationship with it.
If you remember I read a model of that exercise, and if you were not there, the object valued was a hearing aid. The five paragraphs were from my perspective as a child of my hearing-impaired mother. Then the paragraph I am going to include here, and three more touching on going to the specialist, holding one in my hand, and handling related issues of dignity.
So, here we go with the second of five paragraphs on the topic:
We were sitting in the living room, he with his laptop lit up and me with my phone in hand. Then from somewhere I heard a voice; faint, indistinguishable were the words. What I was looking at, a Kohl’s ad, for new sheets was important. He only liked a certain kind of sheets, and they were on sale at Kohls, and I was focussed. “He’ll be so glad I caught them at this price,” I thought, “like half-price when I get my Kohl’s dollars and use my coupon.” Then the voice got louder, and I looked up, his mouth going, but I couldn’t make out all the words. “What did you say?” It wasn’t the first time I had said those words that morning. I remembered suddenly, saying, “What did he say?” about the newscaster, and earlier, “What did you say?” when I asked him who had called. I leaned back in my chair. Had I become my mother. Do I really need a hearing aid? Or is it that ear that I had surgery on? Is it failing again?
So you pick your object that you want to look at five ways, think with five different perspectives and write five paragraphs.
Now to the Creative Writing Class
Last week, we talked about social media and blogging as a way to get your name out. This week, we talked today about
How to Get Started so You Can Publish!
- You need to decide what your book is about, what is the theme or elevator pitch – what you would say about your book to an agent or publisher you have a five minute elevator ride with.
- Set a daily word count goal. A page a day is about 300 words. If that’s all time or inspiration allows, remember how we talked about never go to an empty page. So jot a few words on the next page that will remind you what you wanted to write about next.
- A standard nonfiction book or novella is 40,000 – 60,000 words.
- A long nonfiction book or standard novel is 60,000 – 80,000 words.
- Divide that up by the number of words you plan to write daily and you will know how long till this first draft is done.
- Make an appointment with yourself to write every day. Then don’t take any other appointments during that time, if you can at all help it. Your career as a writer is that important.
- Write in the same place every day. Remember my friend who has written many books at Starbucks. I am not recommending Starbucks because I couldn’t write there. You find the place where you can, in the corner of a bedroom, the kitchen, the family room. The point is that this is your writing space, your office as an author, and you and your body know that when you go to this place, it means work.
- Give yourself weekly deadlines or word counts. This deadline can be a great motivator.
- Get early feedback from someone who does not love you. Find someone who is a reader or writer. A friend, an editor or a family member will do, if they an be objective and you will let them be objective. This honest feedback can keep you on track and focused.
- Make a person commitment to publishing, to finishing the book, whether it is to be commercially published or self-published. Enough said!
- Embrace failure. Especially when people give you honest feedback. You will only get better and learn how to avoid those mistakes. Perfection is not your goal in those early drafts.
- And if the first one doesn’t do what you wanted it to, write another one.. You will have learned a ton writing the first one that can make the second much better.
So, over the break, think about how much of this you can get into place before we come back together.
Writing a memoir is like building
a stone wall, one rock or one story
at a time.
First off, you must decide what the theme of your book is.
What is a theme?
Simply put, the theme of a book is the main idea that ties everything together. This idea might express a basic universal truth, such as Love, Friendship, War, or Faith.
Here are some ideas to help you uncover yours:
- Look over your life story. Were there any challenges you had to obstacles you overcome? Think losses, illnesses, moves, parental issues. What lessons did you learn along the way? Make a list and they might point you in the direction of a theme.
- Summarize your story in one or two sentences. Ask yourself, “What is my story about?” When you can boil that down into an elevator pitch, (see above) the theme often becomes apparent.
- Step back and look at the big picture. Ask yourself questions such as “Why did I make that choice?” or “Why didn’t I choose another school , friend, mate, career.” Or “What would I do differently now that I know what I know today?” These questions could help you write a great memoir theme.
- Talk to someone who knows your story. Since she has an outside perspective, she may spot a theme which will unify your message. I say she because women, sisters, are more likely to notice these things, and their perspective may reveal new things to you or help you wrestle through your truth to the universal truths.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving!