As part of her own memoir writing process, author Shirley Hershey Showalter has been keeping a blog. For one entry, Shirley received permission from her friend, Professor Melanie Springer Mock, to post the syllabus for a university-level memoir-writing class that Mock was teaching at George Fox University in Oregon. I think you’ll find some of the assignments from this course relevant in helping an amateur writer craft a heartfelt memoir.
The first assignment Mock gives her students is to keep a journal. We’ve talked about that here at Write My Memoirs before. Mock calls journaling “the most democratic literary form,” because everyone has a life story from which to draw, and we all own our stories. Adding that journaling also is “perhaps the most fundamental form of life writing,” Mock expresses the hope that her students will enjoy the journaling process enough to continue with it after the course ends. To guide the students in productive journaling, the syllabus advises:
“A fruitful journal will include more than a summarization of weather and what you had for lunch, although you may write about that as well. Consider using your journal to record daily events, conversations and feelings; to examine your beliefs and thoughts, as well as your reaction to certain daily experiences; to experiment with different writing styles and ideas; and to draft pieces you are working on.” I think those are good suggestions. More assignments next time—check back here next week!