Monday, March 15, 2010

A Stroll Down Memoir-y Lane

I gotta say, there's not much that makes me want to write more than Stephen King's On Writing.

You remember this book, right? It led to this. In fact, as I've been writing my memoirs for my memoir writing class (I'm writing about my journey to realizing I was a writer), I've referenced this book a few times. There's a line where King says, “Do you need someone to make you a paper badge with the word writer on it before you can believe you are one?” And the thing was, I used to need that paper badge. But reading King's book that summer helped me take it off, so that's the title of my memoir--Paper Badge.

And while we're on the subject of memoir, let me just say I'm immersed in it this semester. I'm taking the memoir writing class, and I'm also taking a Memoirs Across Cultures class, for which I read roughly one memoir a week. Think Angela's Ashes, and Lipstick Jihad. But I've also been reading for fun, too. I've discovered I like to read before going to sleep--it helps me clear the mind and prepare for sleep--but I don't want to read my school books. Those require mental acuity and note-taking. No, I need simple, pleasurable books for bedtime. I had the urge to read the Little House books, and so I just jumped right in with Little House on the Prairie. (Little House in the Big Woods is literally falling apart at the seams.) I read all of those, then moved on to Caddie Woodlawn, then realized I'd skipped Farmer Boy (from the Little House series). After completing my pioneer-themed memoir run, and in the midst of writing my own memoir in which I talk about King's book, I remembered that I had never actually read the first half of On Writing, which is...you guessed it...a memoir.

It's been very enjoyable so far. But more than that, it makes me want to write, and submit, and write some more, and submit until I get published. The book is inspirational, darn it. Which is good, coming off my first rejection. Oh, yeah. I forgot to tell you. I submitted two stories to my school's literary journal, The Alchemist Review, and neither one was accepted. The journal is 'moving in a different direction' this year, whatever that means. While I didn't feel devastated, I did feel, well, rejected. But one of the things I've learned over the past couple of years is that one must submit, and submit, and submit some more. And so I've decided that this summer, while I'm not working (yay!), I will polish up some stories and/or articles and submit them.

But in the meantime, in the midst of the last semester of my schooling--in the midst of the grind and the wear and the drag toward the finish--I'm going to read about writing. After all, I could use a little inspiration.


Chris said...

The only problem with you being such a lovely writer....wait....you being someone whose writing is lovely....and yes, YOU are lovely too.......is that I'm intimidated when I want to comment on your writing, because I feel I must have a well-written response! Ha! Of course I loved your title - and enjoyed this post very much. Gosh, it makes me so proud that I get to be your mom! xoxoxoxxox

Angela said...

Warning: I'm about to rant (And rave).
What timing! (Sorry, I've been lax in checking your blog this week. I need to follow.)
I just finished the book yesterday. It had been sitting on my shelf for over a year, and I finally picked it up. I couldn't put it down. I love memoir's in general, but the "Writing" portion of this was so inspirational, it made me cry when he was talking about The Situation vs Plot and First Draft-10%, etc.
One of the things that I've been beating myself up for was that I deemed myself a dabbler. Not really a writer because I didn't start this 'writing thing' until later and then only in blog form for a long time. I realized this was not only ridiculous but completely false while reading this. I've been wanting to write my own "Own It, Girl." post recently, but instead I got back to work on the novel. It's a fair trade, but I think I'm going to post it this weekend.
By the way, "Own It, Girl" is still one of my favorite blog posts on this site, and it was also inspirational to me. Also, when King writes about the Ideal Reader, I realized you are my IR. I hope you are OK with that.

Anonymous said...

i truthfully adore your own writing type, very useful,
don't give up as well as keep writing for the reason that it just simply well worth to look through it,
excited to look at more of your well written articles, thanks!

Tena said...

My "paper badge moment": I was sitting in front of a green-screened IBM computer with a very old version of WordPerfect. I had just typed some keystroke combination to boldface a word, and it struck me that I was a writer. I got paid to do it. I wrote ag articles, but I had become intimate with words in a way I NEVER did as a student writing another banal academic essay that'd never see the light of day. I began to OWN the language. That's when I got my paper badge.