Memorable Moments

Vector old typewriter with a paper

Anyone who believes you can’t change history has never tried to write his memoirs.”  – D. Bengurion

Welcome to Memorable Moments, a class designed to get you thinking about and translating your memories into words. I use the term “translate” here – as opposed to “record” or “recount” – because it’s important to realize that bringing people, places, and events to life on a page requires creativity. It is not simply writing down facts. Besides, no matter how hard you to try to get the facts right, they will always be colored by your perceptions. This is the beauty and the challenge of memoir writing.

Many folks assume that because it’s easy for them to tell their stories aloud, the process of committing them to paper should be equally simple. With a few notable exceptions, this isn’t the case. It takes time and practice to learn how to put thoughts, feelings, and events into coherent sentences that other people can understand and enjoy. In other words, don’t expect to sit down and churn out something like Stop-Time or Out of Africa on your first try.

On the other hand, acquiring those writing skills and sharing your memories can and should be an enjoyable process. That’s why I always begin my classes with a warning about SLS. SLS is a term I came up with. It stands for “Serious Learning Syndrome,” and almost all my students have a terrible case of it. Basically it means that they take learning much too seriously, and as a result have lost the spontaneity and joy that should be part of the whole process. This is particularly debilitating for writers, who need every bit of spontaneity, humor, joy and creativity they can muster.

Before you congratulate yourself for choosing a class that will be a cinch to get through, I must caution you that I make a big distinction between SLS and the work that needs to be done if you want to learn. My role models for learning have always been children. Take a few minutes to go down to a local park and watch them at play. They are totally immersed in what they are doing. They faces are flushed, their eyes sparkle, and they throw their whole bodies into whatever they’re doing. They are having a great old time, but they are also working very very hard. So hard in fact that by the end of the day they will collapse in exhausted heaps of satisfaction.

Now I’m not saying that you should be collapsing by the end of this class. However, I’m hoping that you will approach these lessons with the desire to play and the willingness to work at that play. I would also ask that you keep a sharp lookout for any signs of SLS in your instructor. Having once had the worst case of SLS in recorded history, I have been known to suffer occasional, minor relapses. Fortunately my students have always provided the perfect anecdote with their astute (and occasionally off-the-wall) observations and joie de vivre. Corny jokes have also been effective.

So, whether you’re here out of idle curiosity, a compelling desire to learn to write about your experiences in life, or some other less well-defined reason – Welcome. 

Copyright 2015 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.