I’m very pleased to see that now we are six, (including me)! Hoping things grow from here. I encourage all subscribers who are interested in writing personal essays, often called memoir, to submit their work directly to me (firstname.lastname@example.org). There are no rules that I can think of…however I do suggest not sending first drafts. I’d also suggest a maximum of maybe 1200 words (or so) to start with.
I’ll post all work submitted, but I might make individual suggestions before I do. I don’t want to come across as too teacher-like. The hard truth is that good creative writing can’t be taught in any case. The great virtue of a workshop is that it keeps us all writing, so that as we write we can begin the task of what amounts to teaching ourselves. Still, perceptive comments and constructive suggestions from others are extremely valuable.
I don’t know if this attempt at a virtual workshop will be successful. But I do know there are lots of people who like me, are interested in writing about themselves. And while there are obviously some advantages to an actual workshop with actual people, I don’t see a lot of practical disadvantages with an online version. I suppose we’ll soon find out. Theoretically we could perhaps work something out on Zoom, but there are people who will want to keep their anonymity, and as it happens I’m one of them.
I’ll post my own essays from time to time about which you are very welcome to comment, and to offer constructive suggestions. Most will be previously published work, but I’ll try to post some new stuff as well.
Most of the work has to come from you guys, our determined little gang of writers. Try to write at least a little bit every day. Just a few lines added to just a few previous lines can eventually add up to a very fine personal essay.
Another tip. Or an attempt at one. What’s called ‘'voice”….hard to define but we all know it when we hear it…also can’t be taught. But perhaps it can be developed, kind of like improving an ear for music.
When you’re writing, you’re basically adopting a role. You’re the person telling the story. You have the floor. All eyes are on you. (Yikes!); So you must have a personality. You can’t very well mumble and shuffle about ( unless it’s purposeful). You have to be someone, someone consistent, and confident, or at least confidently unconfident if you know what I mean. Maybe you’re funny, or silly, or confused, or sarcastic, or sad. Maybe dry irony is your thing. Maybe you’re a conceited a-hole. (Then again, by far the safer course is to be likable and relatable as the narrator.) . Inevitably, the role you pick (usually without much thought), if it’s to be effective, will be an authentic aspect of who you really are. And who you are is the story you’re trying to tell in the first place.
I believe that voice is pretty much everything. I can just about guarantee that if you write with a compelling voice what you write will inevitably be quite good.
An important caution: I’m just giving you my own likely idiosyncratic ideas. Please don’t try to force anything. I found voice easily enough during my productive stretch years ago. Mostly it just happened. But now it’s a struggle. Always bear in mind the fair possibility that I have absolutely no clue what I’m talking about.
That’s plenty for now. Feel free to tell your friends about what I hope will be a good experience for all. And feel more than free to ask any questions you might have. Or since we’re so small, people might want to introduce themselves. Or not.
All entirely up to you folks!
I am old. I have stories. Who cares. Turns out Mr. Rosen does. He is encouraging us to take a risk. Is my vocabulary up to snuff, are my metaphors trite, can I make something I didn't know I could? What a terrific exercise. Thank you!