So I need a minimum of eight pages for my creative nonfiction independent study tomorrow. I’ve been writing, almost everyday for the last five days. I start on an idea but don’t seem to have enough to sustain it. I think of memories that I can work from but the same things keep coming up. Most of which I have already written about.

If I put together everything I’ve written so far, it would probably be enough but it is a lot of fragments and not very cohesive. I wouldn’t mind doing a collage like Suheir Hammad‘s Drops of This Story but I can’t seem to find a connecting thread. I’m also getting hung up on the idea that memoir is about an event or a period of time. I’m starting to move past that and into something more lyric but I am still struggling. Any ideas for where to start?

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4 Responses to Struggling

  1. M. Waverly says:

    Perhaps try thinking about an event in your life that others witnessed. You might have been a witness to an event yourself or something may have happened to you in particular, but in the presence of others. You saw something and felt something, but where was everybody else? What exactly did they see and from what perspective different from yours? What might they have thought or felt? You might have, although you didn’t know exactly what they thought or felt, had a belief about those things at that time. In your memoir you might talk about the beliefs you had about those things while the event was occurring or after it was over. (e.g., “I thought Grandma saw; and if she did, I knew what that meant. She was gonna…”) Memoirs like that are often vivid for the reader. …and it will certainly lend itself to a page:action ratio more favorable to you at present.

  2. Marahm says:

    If “the same things keep coming up”, maybe something there needs to be brought out. Maybe you simply need to keep going, precisely when you feel you don’t have enough to sustain it. When the same things keep coming up, try starting from before those same things came up. How did those “same things” arise?

  3. s. hammad says:

    the wonderful poet lenelle moise uses the term “autobiofictional” that might help. also, the threads are always there, follow them to more, and keep following, the detailed head down approach sometimes means we don’t where we’re going. but you might look up and find something glorious made by you. thanks for the shout out.

    • Thank you for the referral. I like the notion of autobiofictional that she puts forth. It really questions the way we view memory and what constitutes truth. I look forward to reading more of her work.

      I think the main problem was that I lost the meta-narrative, the writer looking back wasn’t present. I just had a string of seemingly unrelated events. There were some great scenes, I just need something to bridge them together; they weren’t set up or introduced in any way. I’m much more hopeful about it now.

      I realized today that I have forgotten that nonfiction can also include daydreams, dreams, and nightmares. I had some pretty graphic nightmares after I was hit by a drunk driver in February. I’m thinking of putting those into graphic novel form. Maybe that will help me connect with them.

      Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I adore your work. The first piece of yours that I read was First Writing Since. A classmate had it in handout form from a race and gender class. I’ve been wanting to read ZaatarDiva for some time now but I’m an English Lit major so I don’t get a lot of time for other reading. Hum…maybe on winter break. I’m hoping they come out with an e-book edition soon. Peace.

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