Thursday, January 21, 2016

My New Year's Resolution--Write a Memoir, Bill Roorbach's Writing Life Stories Book Review, Tiny Tidbits on Writing and Life

Hello and welcome to the J.Q. Rose blog!
Fairview Floral and Greenhouses circa 1990
Photo by Cheryl Sneller
My new year's resolution, goal, priority is to write a memoir about our first year (1976) as business owners. My husband, Gardener Ted,  and I were co-owners of a floral shop, garden center, and greenhouses for nearly twenty years. That first year was a year of firsts and a roller coaster ride with giddy highs and crushing lows. But we survived and thrived. My hope in the writing of the memoir is to inspire others who have a dream they want to make into a reality. Perhaps seeing that we could live our dream will help guide and assure others they can do it too.

The photo above is the shop and greenhouses in 1990. We opened the business in 1976 then relocated a block away after building a new shop and greenhouses which opened in 1986.

Writing Life Stories: How To Make Memories Into Memoirs, Ideas Into Essays And Life Into Literature
Writing Life Stories by Bill Roorbach
Okay that's a long introduction to what I really want to share today. I've led workshops on writing life stories and have written little vignettes of my life as I taught the workshops. Now I'm taking on writing a book, I mean a 30,000-50,000 word book about my life. Gulp. I haven't decided if I'll have it published or if I'll just keep it for family members. I guess I'll decide that after it's written to see if I might get sued for defamation of some of the characters in this story. Oh yes, there are some folks who "done us wrong!"

So I've been reading memoirs and studying books on memoir. Writing Life Stores: How to Make Memories into Memoirs, Ideas into Essays, and Life into Literature by Bill Roorbach is eye-opening, thought-provoking, and full of wisdom for burgeoning writers, as well as experienced authors. His literary grade language and insight into what writing really is made me appreciate my choice to become a writer. This book is an inspiring read.

Bill, if I may call him that, brings clarity to the memoir genre. Incorporating rules of fiction writing with non-fiction events is an art. I soaked up every bit of the information he shared. He's a teacher as well as a writer and allows us to explore this marvelous genre through writing our own articles as exercises at the end of the chapter. I wish I were actually sitting in his classroom so I could be in a lively discussion with him and students on all the topics he covers.

My vocabulary grew because of his expertise in the English language. I discovered words like "adumbration" and "enjambment." 

These are quotes by Bill I want to keep in mind such as:

In regards to the writer's voice--"Emotion is the sound of a writer's voice."
In regards to writing--"This is art we're talking about, not a job."

I don't usually do book reviews, but this is more of a love letter to this book. If you are looking for a book on memoir-writing, pick this one up. I actually borrowed the kindle edition through amazon Prime's program. You know it had to be worth reading because I broke down and actually bought the paperback book!

Tiny Tidbits for Writing and Living:

Writing Life Stories by Bill Roorbach is definitely a tip you can use even if you're a writer and not even planning on penning a memoir. I had planned to just include this book in the tiny tidbits, but as you can see, the topic is neither tiny or a tidbit. I decided it needed more space, and so the tidbit became a blog post! 

New Words to Me--Sorry if you already looked up these words--or you may already know them anyway--but I added the definitions from for you if you are curious about the meanings.
verb (used with object), adumbrated, adumbrating produce a faint image or resemblance of; to outline or sketch.
2. to foreshadow; prefigure.
3. to darken or conceal partially; overshadow.


nounplural enjambments 

the running on of the thought from one line, couplet, or stanza to the next without a syntactical break
Use hair spray to get ink out of clothing. Spray and blot.


Roseanne Dowell said...

Great post, Janet. I think I'm going to have to get that book. I've read a lot of articles about writing memoirs and I'm seriously thinking of doing mine also. I taught a couple classes about it and wrote a few things down myself. I need to put them in some kind of order and seriously get down to it. I think I told you my father in law wrote his and my sisterx in law and I made copies for each of us and all of his grandchildren. He's gone now and I'm sure my children treasure the book as much as I do. We wish he'd have included more of his childhood and early marriage before we knew him.

Helena Fairfax said...

How exciting to write your memoir,JQ. I wish my grandparents had left something similar for us to remember them by. My Irish grandfather wrote one or two pieces about his life which were fascinating. I'd love to have known more. Very best of luck with your project. I'm sure it will be a fascinating read and I do hope you decide to publish

Marsha said...

Fascinating post, JQ. Very ambitious to write a memoir, but aren't you smart to find someone to help you. I also like you're starting small with the piece about your first year owning the flower business.
I think your family will certainly want the book, but maybe others as well. We can always learn from others' lives. I hope you have an awesome 2016. Having important goals is a great way to start. Good. luck.

Susan Bernhardt said...

Exciting, J.Q. about writing a memoir! Best wishes with that. I would definitely change the names of the characters in the book. I'm sure you already planned on doing that.

Have fun!

J.Q. Rose said...

Roseanne, Your father-in-law's memoir a family treasure. A journal written by the great grandfather of one of my writing circle members was my inspiration to encourage folks to recored their life stories. What an amazing journal written when only the very rich had books. He talked about looking at books on display in a bookstore window and wishing he had the money to buy one. Eye-opening to me. I encourage you to begin now putting your life stories together for your big family to treasure now and in the future.

J.Q. Rose said...

Helena, I only knew my two grandmothers because grandfathers passed before I was born. How I wish either Ma or C.B. (my grandmothers) would have recorded their lives and information about their husbands. Please consider writing about your life. I know you've lived in several places. Each place would be a great topic!

J.Q. Rose said...

Thank you, Marsha. Yes, this small piece is turning out to be a pretty big piece! I'll need to weed out the happenings to turn into scenes that can be informative and entertaining if I decide to publish. It's fun to go back and wallow in the nostalgia, but kind of sad to remember the folks who have passed.

J.Q. Rose said...

Susan, Had to laugh about changing the names. I will do that for sure if I decide to publish, but in my small town everyone will know who the character is even with a name change!!

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