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W Story for the #atozchallenge

2016AtoZChallenge

“Why are there bubbles in the washing up bowl? Why does it get dark at night? Why is my middle finger longer than all the others?”

Whether it was the incessant questioning that made her snap or the row with her boss earlier, she didn’t know. “When are you going to grow up?”

Water – soapy water – hot, soapy water splashed all over her and onto the kitchen floor. “Wonderful, just wonderful,” she screamed in frustration.

“Why did you splash water? Why is it wonderful?”

Why

Links to previous A-Z stories:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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Books

A-Z Challenge: W is for…

Why? And Wearing White

Memoir Writing

This post is one of 26 I am writing for the A-Z Challenge on the subject of writing a memoir. I’m not an expert in writing memoirs, but I’m exploring the topic with thoughts about writing one, and am happy to share the fruits of my exploration.

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MemoirWriting-Why

Who? What? When? Where? These are all questions we need to answer as we write the scenes that make up the memoir.

But most of all, we need to ask why. Because the why questions help us to make sense of what happened, and we need to make sense of events before letting readers get to them. Readers aren’t therapists. We don’t go to them with our problems. They want to see solutions.

There are many why questions that need to be answered while writing a memoir. Even if the answers don’t make it into the memoir, I think we should know the answers. Knowing them will provide the clarity we require to make the memoir shine.

  • Why write a memoir?
  • Why did that happen to me?
  • Why did I do that?
  • Why did they do that?

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It’s time for another story from my past. This is one that probably won’t make it to the memoir.

I’ve been reading a lot of A-Z posts. One set of posts that has fascinated me has been Rosalind Adam’s discussion of song lyrics. In her K post, she asked, “Is there a song that speaks directly to you?” I could mention several such songs, but this time I immediately thought of one in Hebrew and the words, “This summer wear white and pray for the best.”

In the summer of 1986 I’d been through one miscarriage and was at the beginning of another pregnancy. I had a pair of white trousers that were slightly wider in the waist than my others and suitable for this stage. If there had been any bleeding, white wouldn’t have been the best colour to wear, but I hoped that wouldn’t happen again. I often wore those trousers that summer and often sang those words to myself. Fortunately, all was well. He weighed 3.875 kg at birth. That’s 8.54 pounds.

I don’t even know the real meaning of that song!

Unfortunately, but excitingly, I probably won’t be able to respond to your comments before the beginning of May. But do please keep commenting. When the challenge is over, I will write a concluding post with a summary of all the advice you’ve been giving me. And don’t forget, the Comment link is at the top of this post.

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Books

A-Z Challenge: G is for…

Gornick’s Situation and Story

Memoir Writing

This post is one of 26 I am writing for the A-Z Challenge on the subject of writing a memoir. I’m not an expert in writing memoirs, but I’m exploring the topic with thoughts about writing one, and am happy to share the fruits of my exploration.

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MemoirWriting-Gornick

In her book, The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative, Vivian Gornick differentiates between these two easily-confused terms. Actually, it’s not the terms that people confuse, because as far as I know Gornick is the only one who uses them. It’s the concept that there are two things going on.

Gornick’s “situation” is the collection of scenes, the where, who and what. The story is the emotional journey the narrator travelled while traversing the scenes. This is what the reader really wants to understand. Without a story, the situation has no interest, or not much.

To illustrate a major point in the book, Gornick describes a speech that moved her while others didn’t. When she analysed the reasons why this particular speech was different from the rest, she came to the conclusion that the speaker was able to choose who she needed to be for the purpose of the speech. That is, out of all her roles in her life, she chose the one that fitted the theme of her speech and stuck to it. She says, “Because the narrator knew who was speaking, she also knew why she was speaking.”

Who am I for the purpose of my memoir? I think I have to be a person who has been affected by social anxiety. The fact that I’m a wife, a mother, a sister, a cousin, a friend, a maths graduate, a former computer programmer, a dancer, a chief cook and bottle washer and more is only relevant if any of these roles have some bearing on social anxiety, or if social anxiety has affected these roles.

Do you know who you are?