Figuring Things Out


I’ve always believed writing helps clarify our thoughts. But it wasn’t until I participated in Steve Watkins’ Memoir Class at our studio that I realized how helpful writing about our past can be.

In this six-week workshop, Steve has encouraged us to produce five pages a week, choosing various points in our life to detail and expand. I’ve written about my adventure with cousins on Rock Island, an experience with a friend in Germany, and days leading up to my father’s death. Some call this writing narcissistic, and I suppose that’s true in one way. After all, the focus seems to be on the writer. But it’s so much more than that. We look for the theme, the learning, the ways our own experience can be universal. And Steve concentrates on the craft of writing–how we “crack open” our anecdotes, what we choose for dialogue, and vocabulary we use to tell our stories.

For me, reliving details of my past isn’t always easy. I have reached into my past to expose raw places. But in writing about them, I’ve come away with a new understanding. And though I never thought I’d want to write memoir for publication, I can absolutely see writing for my children and grandchildren. There are stories to tell!