Meta-narrative and Talking Things Out

I ended up turning in a series of fragments for my memoir piece. I numbered them to keep things separate but couldn’t really find the thread that connected it all. Each time I sat down to write, I would come up with a scene or a fragment. Some of it was events from my childhood and the rest were things that were happening while I was writing. My teacher suggested that I create a meta-narrative in the form of struggling to get the writing done.

It seemed like a great idea. I’m always fascinated by works where the writer talks about their writing process. I also realized that I was shying away from writing my current self into the narrative. Because there isn’t the perspective/distance granted by time, I don’t see myself as involved in the story. It seemed strange, like Kaufman writing himself into his screenplay in Adaptation. The idea that I don’t belong in my own story is preposterous, especially since I primarily write trauma. Somehow everything I learned from reading Writing as a Way of Healing. So I decided to use the struggling writer as the meta-narrative but I still didn’t have any kind of a theme.

This Saturday, I met with a friend that I took a creative nonfiction class with in the spring of 2009. I told her about the fragments of work I had and she asked me to read them to her. She’s a great listener and really supports me in my work. Anyway, after hearing me read she said that she got a sense of different kinds of violation. She was right. I wrote about the violation of space, sacred space, the body, positions of trust, and so on. With this in mind, the revision was easy. I ended up cutting a couple of scenes and I added in a good bit of new material. It still isn’t where I want it to be yet, but I’ve got a great start.

For the next section, I’ll be writing lyric essay. I’m hoping to write some every day so I am better prepared. It seems silly but I realized the importance of sharing my work and getting someone’s opinion of it. If you do this, make sure you aren’t sharing with a friend who simply says “it was good,” or these kinds of helpful statements. I prefer honesty. If I lose you as a reader, I want to be told.

Anyway, that’s about it for now. BTW- The Seneca Review has a special issue out this month on the lyric essay.

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