Reflection: Writing a Memory Narrative

At first I was unsure about writing a memory-based narrative for Brevity‘s flash nonfiction contest. I was most worried about choosing an interesting topic to write about without getting overly personal. Before it was even discussed in class, I already knew I didn’t want to write about anything traumatic or too heavy. But when I sat down at my computer, everything that popped into my head were things too personal that I didn’t want to put to paper — much less condense into 500 words (or less). Finding my topic was probably the hardest and longest part of writing the memory narrative.

As the deadline approached, I realized that anything worth writing about would always have a personal quality to it. So, with that acceptance, I decided that–if I couldn’t avoid something personal–I would at least write about something universal: chemistry…that love-at-first-sight sort of experience that almost everyone has had.

Even with that strategy in mind, I still wasn’t sure if I would be able to write about chemistry in a new and interesting way. I knew I wanted it to be humorous — even if it was a silent humor, only quietly acknowledged within the reader’s mind. With this goal set, I decided I would begin with a scene that’s unusual for people who are attracted to each other: the rejection; and with that my writing began to flow.

When I finally finished, I still wasn’t sure if I was going to stick with what I had written. It was pretty funny to me, but I was worried about what others thought…Not whether they thought the writing wasn’t fluid or interesting, but more on whether they would be offended or insulted. Even though, the topic was kind of a common aspect…I had friends who were like this. As I thought more about it, the more I leaned toward scrapping it.

It wasn’t until the most recent peer readings that I became really comfortable with the content, deciding not to scrap it, and becoming excited about actually submitting it for the contest. Their feedback about it being funny (without any introductory or extra information from me before-hand) allowed me to see that I had achieved my goal.

The experience of seeing, hearing, and reading the effects of my writing in real-time, right after someone’s reading, was extremely energizing and motivating.

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8 thoughts on “Reflection: Writing a Memory Narrative

  1. Choosing a topic was nearly impossible for me too. I know what you mean about that fine line between a story that is overly personal and one that is honest and genuine. I think this writing experience was unique, and I also loved getting feedback from the read-arounds in class.

    It’s interesting to see how you came about the topic of “chemistry”. I appreciate that you for taking a humorous approach to this assignment. Initially, I was apprehensive that my topic seemed a bit more light-hearted in comparison to many of our classmates’ stories. Good luck with the Brevity submission and I look forward to reading your narrative!

  2. Having read your short narrative ahead of time, it was really interesting to read your reflection on the process of putting it together. The chemistry of two people was a very unique but also universal topic. A great choice on your part. I found it very amusing that you described your piece as a “love-at-first-sight” interaction when it was really a hugely mistaken love at first sight. You did seem a bit concerned that others would take offense of your story but I don’t think you should take that too seriously. There are always people who won’t appreciate certain types of humor. Utilize your creativity and talent in writing and go ahead and come up with things that might offend people! Who cares? If you think it’s suitable and you enjoy the humor conveyed just do it :). I’m happy that our feedback made you comfortable with your narrative!

  3. I remember that you mentioned that you were thinking about scrapping your story shortly before we read it. I’m glad you didn’t.
    Your piece had a somewhat cold tone (and that’s probably why you were afraid it might have been offensive), but that’s what made this piece perfect. It came off as raw, humorous, yet thought-provoking.

    I’m glad that you were encouraged by your classmates.

  4. Dude. You’re paper was genius. I remember reading it and thinking, “This kid sounds super nerdy. He’s getting rejected by this girl, then wants to say something, but is too scared. Yeah I’ve read this a million times.” Then, all of sudden, the paper slapped me in the face. You, sir, are a born writer (or a developed one?). Anyway, that was a twist that I’ve never heard in a story like that. Like I told you after reading it, it was very Louis C.K.-esque. I’m glad that our comments to you made you appreciate your story more, because I loved it and would have been quite sad if you hadn’t submitted it. I think I’m an okay writer, but much better at critiquing other people’s writing (aren’t we all), and yours was just beautiful to read. So entertaining, so unexpected, and so well-written in such few words. I’ll stop doting over your literary abilities now. I hope you land that screenwriting job brotha! See you in Hollywood

    • Haha, thank you for your kind words…Hearing you laugh while you read it and your feedback afterwards was what helped the most, man. And if I ever do make it in Hollywood, you were part of the reason (…and I’ll make sure to give you a cameo role, lol).

  5. Pingback: Flash Non-Fiction Submission for Brevity | Jon x 5

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