As the weather cleared, members began to arrive. We were pleased to see the number of attendees; we feared the summer exodus and threat of rain would take its toll on this meeting.
Without a predetermined subject of discussion, we opened the floor to whatever subject happened to strike our fancy. Taking the lead, I passed around an article on writing query letters. While the members looked it over we began an informal discussion on memoirs that morphed into an interesting and thoughtful conversation engaging all attendees.
Methods of using well placed thoughts and powerful wording make what may well be described as mundane occurrences riveting passages worth reading more than once. Examples of such work by distinguished memoirists allowed us to see the results.
We attempted to avoid the legal issues discussed in the previous meeting and concentrated on issues of craft. Although, use of signed permission forms, approving what is written about a person or the family of those no longer alive, was introduced by Kerri. It’s a good idea and, if permission is given, it’s harder to recant.
After a short break, we moved on into the reading portion of our evening.
Jim Kelly shared three winning poems from his program of introducing poetry and writing to 5th Grade students. The poems produced by these youngsters were high quality examples of the capabilities of young poets can share with their classmates and the world. Jim also brought three of his work, The Calico Cat, The Elevator, and The Sleeping Fox are typical of Jim’s mastery. Background for his writing The Sleeping Fox was beautiful yet eerie and gave a feeling of divine intervention.
An excerpt from Mary Clark’s Liars Club, as read by Kerri, highlighted the authors use of sights, sounds, smells, and feelings to make the reader feel as if they were with her when the incident occurred. It was a great follow-up to our discussion.
Peter was doing a bit of clean up on his computer and came up with a good idea; he shared with us the way a story is born; his methods and ways of developing the storyline. He also shared his views on the development of memoirs from much earlier eras through the 1990’s. Early memoirists were more reserved in revealing their innermost secrets whereas, by the 90’s, they laid it all out there; “the good, the bad, and the ugly.” Then, he shared two exquisite poems of his, Anger and Snowman.
In recent weeks, a woman has come to us and until last month had not felt comfortable sharing her writing with us. Last meeting, Laticia read a short opening to her work that was powerful and engaging, it left us wanting more. This time she allowed us to consider her backstory. A span of a few weeks, from birth to introduction into a dysfunctional family rift with abuse and alcoholism, introduces us to a life not yet finished.
Westy shared a portion of his memoir from 1951, the beginning his tour of active duty. From standing guard on a flight-line in sub-zero weather, were the facilities were non-existent and his cohort couldn’t hold it, he describes how his overzealous attention to the boiler made water too hot for showers and caused discomfort in using a latrine, his confrontation with a Korean War Ace pilot, personal hygiene of a comrade, the attempts of his compadres to help another of their company lose his virginity, and mustering out of active duty into the Indiana Air National Guard, all provide numerous chuckles. Don’s homespun way of telling a tale is engaging and well taken.
As time ran out, two members were unable to share their work, they will be at the top of the list next meeting. Bruce and Ernie, we look forward to your stories.
Until next time, KEEP ON WRITING.
See you at the June 21st meeting.