Welcome to my Blog! Hello, my name is MaryLouise and I am a Special Education Language Arts Teacher. I have utilized my lesson plans and other original teaching material to create picture books, workbooks, nonfiction and fiction articles and teacher's guides for educational resources.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Today's Topic: Memoir Writing

Today's interview is with Maria Okros, Memoir Writing Instructor at the Lawrence Branch of the Mercer County Library. Maria was born in Hungary into a literate family where "reading was religion". She is the eldest of 4 and always excelled in school. She remembers fondly how her mother would read the classics to the family.
MLAC: You have quite an interesting background!
MO: I studied to be a fashion designer, had 2 years of nursing school, became a professional beautician and therapeutic masseur. I'm a triathlete and fitness instructor and give health and physical fitness classes. I am also a Toastmaster with the Princeton and Successfully Speak Up Clubs and a Professional Writer.
MLAC: How did you find yourself in the role of Memoir Writing Instructor?
MO: I originally came into the group as a member and was voted into the position and became leader of the group.
MLAC: I've always wondered what exactly is a memoir and how do I write one?
MO: It's remembered events of different times and places in life which includes the tremendous to tragic, from birth to the present moment. Memoir writing is intensely personal. What people write about and how intimate is up to the person. There are no musts, have tos, or shoulds, but good writing is good writing. The single greatest thing about memoir writing is that it's about ourselves and getting our story out. You don't have to make up a story because you have lived it!
MLAC: Can you tell me about the Memoir Writing Class? I noticed that the class (after listening intently to each others pieces) gave opinions, reminisced about similar situations, etc. You also gave instruction about sentence structure, where more descriptions were needed and if more details were called for.
MO: It's a group setting where people inspire each other, learn from one another and energize each other. The group setting also sparks other peoples' memories. Writing for many people is a dream. They think here is my opportunity to be a writer! It's wonderful because people feel safe here. If people aren't comfortable, it wouldn't be an authentic experience. And writing styles differ from person to person. We all carry our own story. There's no competition in here...so just relax and tell your story!
MLAC: You asked the class a question: What is the greatest thing about Memoir Writing?
Class Response: Memoir Writing gives us the opportunity to hear beautiful stories and from people who have written them. We inspire each other. Allows us to get in touch with our entire life. We can better understand earlier things and where we went wrong.
MLAC: Is there a specific format to follow for Memoir Writing?
MO: You have a choice how to write it. It can be written chronologically or stages of life in any order depending on how you want to organize your experiences. Some people want to write about turning points. Every one doesn't want to start with childhood. There are people who focus more on growth of relationships, hobbies, their work or career. These are some of the ways in which Memoir Writing can be approached. Everything that we have experienced and how these are stitched together as in a progression of events. Like little stories stitched together like a film frame and made to flow like a movie. Story + Story + Story.
MLAC: Any closing thoughts about Memoir Writing?
MO: A lot of people get stuck because it requires too much honesty. They say “I don't know where to begin.” To get started...go to a place where you are comfortable and happy and write about it. Look for turning points and moments of insights. And write enough where you can trim down. Let your thoughts and feelings come out. Don't worry about capitalization, punctuation,etc. Don't worry about the mechanics. Find an austere time in life that really touched you. What made an impression? I guarantee that every one of us has books in us!
For more information about the Memoir Writing Class at the Mercer County Library (Lawrence Branch) go to www.mcl.org and click on Adult Programs.

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