Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Writing On Writing – Entry 004

Writing Non-Fiction

As I mentioned in previous blogs, I am working on writing two books. One is a fiction of the fantasy genre. The other is non-fiction. I find writing non-fiction the easier task as I have a base to work with and I don’t have to pull plot and characters from my imagination. However, for this particular book I am, to some extent, put to the task of establishing plot and fleshing out characters.  Let me explain…

It is normal for people in their elder years to recall their history and tell stories of their life experiences dating back to the beginning of their lives, or as far back as they can remember. In fact, it is sometimes easier for elder people to remember the days of their youth than it is for them to remember their experiences of the previous week. In the case of my mother, now at the age of eighty-five, she is no different from any other in their later years. About five years ago, my mother began to tell stories of her youth. Some of the stories I heard before, but these had much more detail. Still, other stories were brand new to me. All of her stories, I noted, were not only interesting and in some ways unusual, but as well, inspiring. Finally, I asked her if she would like to record her memories so that I could transcribe them to writing. She thought that this was a great idea, so I gave her a bunch of 90-minute blank tapes. So far, I have seven tapes that I am still in the process of transcribing. My mother, obviously, loves to talk and is as always the social butterfly.
After transcribing a couple of the tapes, my thoughts turned to writing a book in  the biographical memoir genre. However the more I transcribed the more I thought that composing a linear biography could prove difficult. For one thing, the recorded stories are not in any order, for another, some stories are repeated or come in fragments that are fill-ins of a previous story told several tapes ahead or behind. I wasn't sure how to put it all together, and so I put the project aside, however it stayed on my mind. Then, a couple of months ago, I came up with the idea that I could write the stories as a series of chronological vignettes consisting of  three to four parts. I also came up with a working title for the book, "Visions of My Life... Stories from My Mother's Memories."
As some of the readers of my blog know, my mom lost her vision in an accident at age six. She does remember, however, having vision, and she has memories of experiences of that time. The first part of the book I plan to dedicate to these stories. The second part I plan to include stories during the time between ages six and eight before she went away to the Batavia State School for the Bind. It is interesting to note here that my mother was born in a small French speaking community in the Adirondack Mountains near the Canadian border, and so her relocation to a city where English is the predominant language added to her culture shock, and adds to make her story more interesting.  The third part of the book will contain stories of my mother’s years at school as well as her learning experiences. The final section of the book will contain stories from my mother's adult life as a wife, mother and community volunteer.
This is a huge project to undertake, but I am excited to work toward its completion. My hope is to have it ready for publication within a year’s time, though it may take longer. I try not to constrain myself to time within the confines my personal projects. That way I have leeway when I have deadlines to meet when editing or proofreading the work of others. However, that is a whole other blog to write.
Thanks so much for reading. ~Yvonne~
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