I heard Candace Ransom, a famous children's author, speak at a conference--when I was writing children's books (unpublished, alas)--and she encouraged us to put everything aside and really write. For her that included not vacuuming up all the wispy kitty dust bunnies hugging the baseboards and rolling through the kitchen. At least not until she had finished her writing goal for the day, or week, or month, I guess. I struggle with that.
I am now writing a memoir about three women--not children's books--but I still refer to my notes on Candace Ransom's presentation entitled "Secrets in the Attic: Writing From Your Past." One obvious technique to help women write their memoirs is to read other women's memoirs. But I like the comment Ms. Ransom made about books--that they allow us to eavesdrop on other people's souls. She gave us several ideas that day, including recording our earliest memory and then starting a memory journal. She suggested we draw a map of our childhood home and make a photo collage of family photographs. She advised we take one photograph and "focus on looking beyond the obvious in the photograph."
I moved constantly as a child, so I had several homes to draw. It helped nudge my brain into remembering stories and the feelings I had. I could remember smells--such as the roof-high Gardenia bushes surrounding our house in the Philippines. I could remember tastes, especially the ecstasy of a stolen chocolate cupcake with caramel pecan icing out of the garage refrigerator when I lived in California. I remember the vision of seeing my first snowfall in Virginia when my dad woke us up and took us outside in the middle of the night to see the dancing flakes coat the ground and trees.
Another author I am reading is Susan Wittig Albert. Her book Writing from Life, Telling Your Soul's Story immediately struck me as being exactly what I needed to confirm that other women have sacred stories that belong to just them but are also shared with other women. I am not alone in my misery or my delight. I am especially interested in her chapter on home.
So today I am working on self discipline, reminding myself that writing is my job. As I gaze out my window at the rose bushes, I will ignore the weeds that need to be pulled after all our heavy rains in Texas. One thing at a time.....