Blogs, Creative Writing, Uncategorized

Things to Consider When Writing a Memoir

Are you thinking about writing your first memoir? My disclaimer: I’m not the foremost authority on memoir writing. What I can tell you is I’ve written more than a handful of memoirs, and three are published. One piece of advice I’ve heard over the years is to write what you know. Memoirs are the easiest of the genres to write, in my opinion. There’s no need to imagine content since it’s your real-life account of events or experiences.

In this blog today, I’m focusing on a high-level view of things to consider when thinking about writing a memoir.

  • Decide whether you want to write a memoir or an autobiography.
    • A memoir is a snapshot of a certain experience, time period, or event in your life. There are authors that write numerous memoirs with many themes. You’ll decide the focus of each memoir or the only memoir you write.
      • For example, I wrote one memoir about a special aunt and our relationship from different periods in my life; another memoir was about my experiences as a caregiver to my spouse -which included the years we navigated the organ transplant list process; the most recent memoir I wrote was simply about a year in my life living through the 2020 pandemic.
    • An autobiography is the story of your life. There are more than enough online resources on autobiography writing. I’ve yet to write my autobiography.
  • Think about how you want to start your memoir.
    • Most memoirs begin with an interesting, devastating, or exciting event in your life. Some say memoir or any legacy writing shouldn’t be presented in chronological order.  However, I believe if a memoir is creative and well-written, starting at the beginning can work. It depends on the subject matter and what the author is trying to convey to the reader.
  • Relax and know a memoir is the easiest thing you’ll ever write.
    • Why? Because you already know the story. There’s no mystery as to what the end of the book will produce. You control how much and what you want to write. Let your words flow just as though you’re writing in a journal about the subject of the memoir. You’re, in fact, telling your true story to your audience – write it as if they were sitting in front of you listening.
  • Be prepared to write more than one memoir.
    •  Alternatively, if you have more than a handful of subjects/events to write about that span throughout your entire life to date  – you might consider writing an autobiography or multiple memoirs.
  • Ask yourself what you want your first or only memoir to be about.
    • Memoirs are usually written about (for example):
      • The Loss of a loved one and the effect it had on your life.
      • A special friendship you had during a period in your life.
      • Your experience going into adulthood.
      • How you adjusted to a change in your life during a difficult time (divorce, sickness, death).
      • Changing careers and how those changes affected you as a person.
      • A change in your financial status and the events that brought about the change.   
      • How you handled your life through a particular time in world events (i.e., 9/11; World War; Earthquake; Floods; Recession; Pandemic).
      • How you overcame humble beginnings and the lessons learned.
      • How mistakes caused you to fail and the wisdom gained from those experiences.
      • A relationship with a family member that was volatile or wonderfully special; how it shaped you as a person.
      • How you recovered from a devastating illness (physical or mental); include the lessons learned about the condition, yourself, and the people in your life during that time.
      • How parenting changed your life during a specific period in you and your child’s life.
      • Surviving a violent event/prolonged abuse and how your account may be able to help others cope with their own experience.
      • The valuable and interesting life lessons you learned during your present or previous occupation.

Finally, the theme of your memoir can be whatever you want. The experience, person, achievement, or world event that had the most profound effect on your life may be the focal point for your first memoir. You’re most likely not alone in your experience and someone will want to read your story.

Happy writing!

©2021 R.H.W. Dorsey

R.H.W. Dorsey is a multi-genre author of memoir, fiction, and poetry. Her latest works are a poetry book, “Pandemic-Inspired Poetry” and “I Should Write Some of This Down.”

Uncategorized

National Random Acts of Kindness Day

Photo by ATC Comm Photo on Pexels.com

Random Acts of Kindness Day is halfway over as I pen this piece. If you’ve read my blog in the past, you’ll remember some of my thoughts on those ‘non-official’ national holidays. I honestly believe a good majority of the National Days bring out the best in people. I enjoy them because most of the days have a light-hearted spin and allow us to step out of our comfort zone and communicate with our fellow human beings.

Most unofficial National Days honor relatives, friends, people in varied professions, many foods, and much more. I especially enjoy the days that prompt us to do random things. In this month of February there are some gems: Open that Bottle Night (29th), Do a Grouch a Favor Day (16th), Wave All Your Fingers at Your Neighbor Day (7th), and my personal favorite Spunky Old Broads Day (1st). 😊

Here are some honorable, ‘interesting and questionable’ mentions during the year: Appreciate a Dragon Day (January 16th), National Shower with a Friend Day (February 5th), If Pets Had Thumbs Day (March 3rd), National Cheese Ball Day (April 17th), National Candied Orange Peel Day (May 4th), Name Your Poison Day (June 8th), Yellow Pig Day (July 17th), Race Your Mouse Day (August 28th), Be Late for Something Day (September 5th), Punk for a Day Day (October 25th), Use Your Common  Sense Day (November 4th), Bathtub Party Day (December 5th).

National Random Acts of Kindness Day

The name of this day recognized on February 17th is self-explanatory, unlike some others. A day to perform an act of kindness on whatever scale is wonderful, in my opinion. Using the day as a teachable moment for the younger people in your life is a great idea to pay it forward.

Here are some ideas I’ve come up with (randomly) you may want to try before the day’s over:

  • At work: Ask a coworker if you can bring them something back from the breakroom, vending area, or corner store.
  • At work: Get a coworker their favorite coffee, tea or soft drink as a surprise.
  • At work: If possible, offer to help a coworker with their workload.
  • Hold the elevator those extra few seconds for someone headed your way – they usually really appreciate the gesture!
  • Hold a door open for someone with their hands full or just “because it’s nice to do.”
  • Smile and wave (with all fingers 😊) to the driver who cut you off in traffic.
  • Call someone you haven’t connected with for a while.
  • On the way home: Stop at a drive-through restaurant and pay for the order of the car behind you. Or, if you’re financially able: Go to dinner and pay for a random table’s order before you leave. (It feels great! I’ve been on the receiving and giving end of this act.)
  • Volunteer at a community center or shelter anytime during the year.
  • Call an elderly family member or friend and ask if there’s anything you can do for them today or in the future. (i.e. run an errand, shopping, housework, etc.)
  • Winter: Shovel a neighbor’s driveway.
  • Seasonal: Offer to help with the yardwork for a person needing help.

Also, there are so many things we can do which don’t involve money or time. A smile, a “thank you,” “you look great,” “I’m proud of you,”, and many other words of encouragement go a long way to spreading those good feelings that make some of us want to wake up every day and live our lives.  

It would be a great thing if every person with a voice, platform or means would do their part in making the world a better place. I believe with my whole heart the forces of evil are no match to the spreading of love, kindness and caring throughout the world. In the end, if yours and my ancestors survive the effects of global warming, climate change, war, injustice, governmental corruption, poverty, and most of all hate – I’d like to think acts of kindness, civility, love, and service to others are what saved the world.

P.S. Let’s make every day a Random Act of Kindness Day  

Blogs, Creative Writing, Uncategorized

Speaking on Rain, Writing, Loss, and Hope

Deer outside on 062019

Speaking on Rain, Writing, Loss, and Hope

As the month of June 2019 is nearing its end, I’m wondering how Spring passed by so fast. I remember the rain, rain, and more rain most of this year. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t my imagination we’d had a very wet year in southwestern Pennsylvania. Effortless research online led me to this recent article written by a local meteorologist. I can’t say I was surprised at the precipitation level reported. The article* informs my region had precipitation on 72.5% of the days this year. That figure doesn’t include the fifteen days since the article was published. There’s been even more rain since that time. I need to mention today’s forecast shows three of the next four days with rain. I’ll leave any complaining right here as I acknowledge other areas in my country experiencing worse rain. There were massive flooding events around the world and here in my country over the past months. Lives were lost. I don’t make the mistake of forgetting I’m blessed. I took a snapshot recently of the grass and trees outside my door after a rain (featured above). If you look carefully at the beautiful green scenery, you’ll see a visitor behind the fence spying on me. 😊

With the beginning of Summer starting this past weekend, I feel 2019 slipping away fast. Working on multiple writing projects were the things occupying my time in this second quarter. Daily, weekly and monthly writing goals are a welcome part of my life. What I enjoy most is sharing this journey with like-minded writers and readers. The Twitter #WritingCommunity is filled with supportive writers and readers. A recent Twitter non-scientific poll I ran had 75% of the respondents as solely fiction writers. I’m in the minority 20% that write both nonfiction and fiction. I’m still working on finding my true audience. My style is eclectic like me. I believe finding the happy medium between doing what one loves, caring for yourself, and attending to those you love can be tricky. At this point in my life it’s important I focus on all things that bring me joy.

The past year brought the passing of family members and friends. These losses are happening more frequently than ever. The deaths notifications remind me of my mortality. As I get older, I cherish the personal relationships of family and friends more. My faith keeps me grounded with a peace I wouldn’t trade for anything. My hope is to live every day grateful for the offerings life presents.

Do It

Go ahead and eat the cookie.
Go a little over budget.
Watch the mindless reality show.
Laugh at yourself.
Gaze at the moon.
Cheer loudly for your team.
Hold your loved one’s hand often.
Hug your family every chance you get.
Cherish your friends.
Love fiercely without regret.
Say “I love you” out loud.
Life is a moment long.

© Copyright 2018 R.H.W. Dorsey from Second Act Writings: An Eclectic Poetry & Prose Collection.” 

 

 

* https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2019/06/10/pittsburgh-weather-2019-rain-how-much/

 

 

 

Think It’s Rained A Lot In Pittsburgh This Year? You’re Right

Blogs, Creative Writing, Recipes, Uncategorized

National Pound Cake Day

 

 

 

NATIONAL POUND CAKE DAY

 

Today, March 4th is National Pound Cake Day among other named days. *

According to my journal, I last baked the pound cake noted below in the Spring of 2017. I was living away from my home state temporarily at a Fisher House in the state of Virginia. A close family member was recuperating in a hospital at the time. A lady I’d met months before at the house gave me this recipe. I’d made pound cakes for years with a sour cream addition. The variation of using heavy whipping cream instead was a recipe I was eager to try. The cake turned out well, and I must admit other people at the house thought the same.

I’ve lived in the northeastern United States my entire life. My time in Virginia on that trip lasted close to a year. I had the pleasure of learning the so-called ‘southern hospitality’ was a real thing. The Fisher House was a home away from home. It was always a delight to get a warm welcome from a house guest after a long and sometimes emotional day at the hospital. Most houseguests got a chance to return the favor in kind. I’d have to say it was rare that there wasn’t prepared meals, snacks and fresh baked goods waiting for the guests at the end of their day. Houseguests and staff alike shared in the hospitality that made the time at the house bearable as the hospital patients recuperated.

I don’t have nutritional information for this scratch recipe. And hey, do you really want to know anyway?

So, in the spirit of National Pound Cake Day, here’s my contribution.

(*By the way, today is also National Hug a G.I. Day. My G.I. has been hugged today and he loved the pound cake!) 😊

 

Whipping Cream Pound Cake

Ingredients:

5 or 6 eggs

½ pint heavy whipping cream

2 sticks of softened butter

2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 cups cake flour

2 ¾ cups granulated sugar

 

(A Bundt pan can be used for this recipe, but I use the tube pan to get better results for this heavy cake)

Grease a large tube pan with a light layer of shortening and dust with flour.

(Notes: I used 5 eggs, the original recipe called for 3 cups of sugar; this makes a large cake – if desired, a reduction by half in the ingredients would make a smaller loaf pound cake)

 

DIRECTIONS                                                                 

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs (preferably room temperature) one at a time beating each into the mixture, then repeat the process with each egg.

Add the vanilla extract.

Stir in equal amounts of flour, then whipping cream and stir. Repeat adding whipping cream and flour until the last amount of flour is mixed into the batter.

Bake at 300 degrees F. for 1 hour 45 minutes (I preheated the oven for only 5 minutes or less before baking)

Check for doneness with a toothpick or clean butter knife.

round bread
Photo by Isabella Mendes on Pexels.com

Blogs, Uncategorized

National Clam Chowder Day

seashells in a bag

Photo by julie aagaard on Pexels.com

 

Today, January 25th is National Clam Chowder Day. I promised on a blog post last year that I’d revisit the subject of National Days. Better late than never, I always say. The 25th of February is also National Chocolate Covered Nut Day. I prefer chocolate covered nuts much more than clam chowder, but I learned clam chowder was a more interesting subject.

Are you aware that clam chowder has over nine variations? I mean, who knew? Maybe clam chowder lovers were aware, but not I. Not being a huge clam chowder fan, I can say that I’ve eaten clam chowder at times throughout the years. As a child and into adulthood, I only knew about two types of clam chowder: Manhattan and New England. I always preferred the Manhattan chowder for its tomato base and flavor.

Why does clam chowder deserve a special day? While I can’t answer the question, I believe the issue is not as subjective as I’d originally thought. National ‘Singles Awareness Day’ was observed just last week. If you’re single, aren’t you aware of it every day of the year? If you’re single by choice, shouldn’t you celebrate it every day? Maybe ‘National Singles Day’ would be a better term. Semantics, I know. National ‘Fun at Work Day’ is observed later this week. I wonder how many employers will buy into making the work day ‘fun’ for employees without sacrificing their bottom line? A day of fun at work is possible for some professions, though. When you consider there are ‘National Days’ slated for just about anything, naming a day for a chowder with multiple variations might be reasonable.

Besides New England and Manhattan clam chowder, I’ve read about variations of clam chowder named Rhode Island, Delaware, New Jersey, Hatteras, Minorcan, Long Island, and Puget Sound. It seems the different areas of the United States add or omit ingredients to the chowder, thus giving it a unique name that stuck with the region. While I won’t go into the details of all the variations, I found one interesting variation I’d like to try. Hatteras clam chowder is prepared with celery, carrots, potatoes, onions, and clam juice. My own favorite potato soup recipe has almost all the ingredients of the Hatteras variety, less the clam component.

If nothing else, clam chowder and its many varieties are interesting enough, in my opinion, to have a National Day observance.  My opinion counts – at least on this blog. Personally, as a writer, I’m looking forward to National Tell a Fairy Tale Day tomorrow.

If you like clam chowder, which one is your favorite, and why?

 

 

 

 

References:

https://www.homeandplate.com/blog/2015-2-hatteras-clam-chowder/

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/february/

https://www.ehow.com/info_8355520_different-kinds-clam-chowders.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

END OF NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH

Every-Accomplishment-760x500

Congratulations to everyone that took the NaNoWriMo and Write Nonfiction in November Challenge. It was grueling at times for me but worth well worth the effort. So, congrats to all that participated.

I personally wrote more words this month than I’ve ever written on one single project in this amount of time. That’s a huge accomplishment for me considering I’ve mostly done short stories and poetry. My non-fiction novel written in November included every bit of information about the events I felt necessary. However, I didn’t reach my word-count goal for full novel length. I’m giving this one an “incomplete” on the basis I said I’d do forty to fifty thousand words and didn’t. The book may end up as a novella in the end. With that said, my goal of a full-length novel may have been unrealistic considering the topic. Including content not needed for the sake of a word count didn’t work on this one for me. Unlike fiction, there was nothing to make up or embellish. However, a loss is a loss and I’ll own up to it.

I have a decent first draft and now the fun of re-drafting, proofreading and editing will begin. I’ll tell you a secret: I love the proofreading and editing part – it’s fun for me. The professional help will come much later in this process.

I’m taking a breather for a few days then it’s back to writing in December. Does this writing thing ever stop? I hope not.  😊

Going forward, I hope to refocus my blog on other stuff going on in the world around me.

…until next time!