Monday, October 25, 2010

Hampl's First Draft-Second Draft-Revision

A memorist can’t rely on their memory. So why do we even try to recall things? Hampl’s essay discusses her own inconsistencies and how she makes fixes it.

When writing a personal narrative, we tend to add things to make the story a good story. Hampl distorts things, but she doesn’t know she’s doing it when she’s writing the first draft. It’s only after she re-reads it when she discovers the inability to recall certain events in her life accurately.

She says in the essay, “To tell a story, it is necessary to put something first, then something else”(34). Hampl doesn’t know what she is going to write about, so “the first attempt is to create a shape”(34). Instead of having a blank of paper, we need to just write and put things in to figure out what we’re going to write about. Sometimes the story takes a different direction and that’s when the inconsistencies come in. We input things we’re not entirely sure if they were true or not, but it enables us to connect things from A to B.

Once we have the first draft done, we can find out what direction we want to take and at the same time see the mistakes we made. We then “feel a relationship developing between a former self and me”(35). Things start clicking, we remember things much more vividly, and we get the connection not only between self and older self, but to the world as well.

“True memoir is written, like all literature, in an attempt to find not only a self but a world”(35). A memoir captures more than one’s self journey, but it enables us and the readers to find a bigger truth. A memoir to me is more than just a person’s story, but it’s my story as well. That’s why some memoirs I feel more of a connection than others just because I can relate to some of them more personally.

I agree that her memoir captures “the life-of-the-times as no political analysis can.” We get more intimate with a memoir than with a political analysis. For example, we know what happened at the concentrations camps, but a memoir of a prisoner shows us how it felt.

A memoir doesn’t has to be factually accurate, but it better be close to it. We can’t rely on anyone’s memory, but we don’t read a memoir because of someone’s memory. We read them to get the truth from those memories. As long as the writer tells the reader that, “hey, I tried my best to be fully accurate, but I’m not perfect” then I’m ok with it.The line is drawn when you need to create an event. If you have to change a word here or there, fine that’s ok, but creating an event that never happened just to make the story sound better is wrong.

I am writing a memoir about my current life now, and to make it accurate I keep a daily journal on what happened. I change the names of the people, and if anything that I write I’m not sure of its accuracy, I will tell the readers that I’m not sure if this happened this way. I want to be honest to the readers and when I can’t be, I tell them.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Salvation and Hughes

Langston Hughes wrote two kinds of conflict, man vs. man and man vs. society. We see the man vs. man conflict mostly through interior thought, “So I decided that maybe to save further trouble, I’d better lie, too….” Throughout the story he was confronted by the people in the Church to see Jesus and be saved, however he couldn’t see Jesus. The actual scene may have been less than a minute long, but that was enough time to see the internal struggle with this dilemma. He was confused on why he wasn’t able to see Jesus and why the other children in the church did. He got more confused when Westley, the last person besides him who was sitting down, told him, “I’m tired o’sitting here. Let’s get up and be saved.” The internal conflict was him lying to himself to please others.

The more visual conflict was man vs. society. During his internal struggles, he had to face with the external conflicts of the church congregation singing and moaning to him. The minister directed his attention to him, “Why don’t you come? My dear child, why don’t you come to Jesus?” His aunt sobbed and cried to him to see jesus. He wrote a powerful image displaying emotions that was around him and his inner struggle of coping with the whole thing.

I did find it peculiar though that his decision was based on time then the things that were going on around him and not being saved, “Now it was really getting late. I began to began to be ashamed of myself, holding everything up so long.” He went through all of this as a kid and it was very fitting that his decision was based like a child.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Discussing problems and protecting myself

I like how Karr interweaves the fiction and fact stories together. It's like playing the game two truths and one lie, however your not trying to pick out the truths. Karr uses novel technique to make it read like a fictional story. If you are someone that is worry about people judging you, Karr's style for Liar's' Club is a good book to look at.

Karr's way of protecting herself and her family is a good guidline for memoir writing. I'm writing It's important to ask people's permission before writing them in the story, especially if you are telling a story that is something personal about them. Morally, I find it wrong telling someone else's story without them knowing it. And even if they said yes, but had second doubts about it, I wouldn't let other people read it. Personally, I need to make sure everyone in my story is satisfied before letting people that I don't know read it.

Adding stories about other people's problems, I would follow Karr's guideline and change their names. Having them pick their names is a great idea. It let them have more of a say in the book.

I'm not that type of person who likes to talk about his/her problems. I don't have self-esteem issues, but I would say I'm a little insecure. I worry about what my friends think about me and I'm constantly trying to get the approval of loved ones. To most people, I'm the definition of the nice guy. The type of person that is easily forgotten, but is fun to have around once in awhile.  Watching movies on Friday nights, reading at a cafe on Saturday evenings, and running on Sunday mornings is a typical weekend for me. Most of my friends and family think they have me figure out. He doesn't like to party, hates the night life, worksout all the time, and keeps to himself.

The problems I do have aren't ones people expect me to have since a lot of the people don't know who I really am. It's not like I live a dual life, but I act differently around people who aren't my friends. I would say some people that I've met for only a couple of weeks know me better than some of my friends since high school. They don't know my standup comedy days, the late nights, the sex life etc. 
If I was writing a memoir, my friends and family wouldn't believe any of it. They would think I was writing a fictional story based on my life.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Nabokov and Voice

Nabokov’s voice is an older man looking back at his love of butterflies as a child. His voice is very appropriate with the material, since personally I feel it would be much different if he used his child’s voice. To get what his child’s voice would sound like, we would need to understand his childhood. He lived in a very wealthy household. He was loved by his parents and he learned how to speak three languages at an early age. He was quoted to say that his childhood was in fact, “perfect.”

As you can tell this is very different than Frank’s childhood. Although I would find it interesting to see what the voice of Nabokov would sound like, I feel that it wouldn’t be relatable than Frank’s child voice. He would have gain the sense of innocence, something that was happy and enjoy to read. However we seem to relate better with hardship than success. It is usually the better story as well. No one wants to read something that is just fluffy, sunny, and happy. That’s what I feel like if Nabokov spoke this story as a child. It would sound something like this, “ I saw this beautiful butterfly and it made me feet happy. “ The story was just about him playing with butterflies. The story itself is not very exciting. What made the story was Nabokov’s adult perspective on it. His use of vivid imagery and play of words made the story interesting to read. Frank’s voice played a vital role in the story. He created a truthfulness of his child’s voice. He misspelled words and one long-run thought after another. It worked because his story was about hardship and how his childhood was very much different than others, but we could still relate to it.

He was an entomologist and a writer. What a great way to blend his two professions together by writing a story about butterflies. To make it less scientific, he chose the scene of chasing butterflies as a child. It was a good mix of use of scientific vocabulary and sensual imagery. He combined the two together letting the reader in about his love of butterflies and the nostalgia of being a kid running through the fields again.

I feel like if I was writing a memoir I would use my voice and inner thought when the story was
happening. The adult perspective of looking back is hard for me because sometimes I even wonder why I did the things that I did as a child. To be honest, I was a weird child. I feel like most of the time I would call myself an idiot while talking about an event that happened in my past. However if I was writing the story as a person in the past, it would seem like I was an intelligent child who had the whole world figured out.