No one is likely to write a complete memoir in my classes. I teach the writers what I know about writing their truth, creating entertaining writing that will be read in years to come. Some of the writing done in class might end up in the final stages of a book, but my plan is to teach my students the best way to put their words on the page using humor, dialogue, strong verbs, few adverbs, and to help them dig for memories that help them to learn more about themselves and the people in their lives.
Writing can change our minds, change our ideas about people in our past. I heard a well-known writer on a podcast say he wrote a memoir in which he described his feelings about his mother and years later, he wrote another memoir after his mom suffered from dementia. He said the books were different because he saw his mother in another way.
Whether a person publishes his writing for the public to read or for his immediate family, the act of telling his story in his voice with his own reflections can open his eyes and his heart in ways he had not thought possible. We can't write about our lives without learning more about who we are.
I am listening to a book by Pulitzer Prize winner, Rick Bragg, a southern writer who writes about "his people" meaning his family and friends in Alabama where he grew up and has moved back to live. His latest book is about dogs, especially the terrible dog he calls Speck. But in this book, we learn as much about Rick, his feelings for his beloved brother and his elderly mother as we do the trouble caused by Speck.
I have enjoyed all Rick Bragg's books that I have read and this one about the rescued Australian Shepherd that wants to herd everything he sees is one of my favorites. I like that Bragg loves this dog and the dog learns to love him as well.
If you are a fan of Rick Bragg, tell me why and what have you read?