Here is my study. When the magic happens, it happens here. Actually, it might happen in the flower garden just outside my window in the form of a thought or image which gets transferred from my head to my fingers at my desk. . . .
Every once in a while, fellow bloggers alert me to a writing challenge, many of which I pass over for lack of time or interest. This time, Traci Carver invited me to participate in a Blog Tour. I couldn’t turn her down. Why, just last week we had lunch together. Besides the “tour” is an intriguing way to play tag and learn about other writers’ habits and sources of inspiration while sharing my own. So, a big shout out goes to Traci, story-teller extraordinaire, who turns the cotton of her everyday experience as an English teacher into pure gold. A true Southern belle, Traci is a master of the anecdote. Her stories derive from the small Georgia town she grew up in, the fishing villages of Southeast Asia where she lived for 7-8 years, or from European travel. Now to the questions:
1. What am I working on now?
Three unrelated things at the moment: Preparing for a trip to Pennsylvania soon where I will mine more stories for this blog, purging clothes from the spare bedroom closet to make space for a long-term guest, and writing every single day. My blog has taken shape from 8-9 journal scribblings along with a set of paired stories written with my friend Professor Carolyn Phanstiel before we both retired from teaching.
There is a .doc on my computer desktop where my memoir is taking shape. Right now, it doesn’t have enough structure to “roll it through a printing press,” as Traci wisely observes.
2. How does my work differ from others in the genre?
According to Jerry Waxler, a Memoir Revolution is in full swing. Each year thousands of new memoirs pour onto the shelves. Millions are writing memoir right now. Even in the Mennonite sub-culture, hundreds of memoirs have been published since Canadian Mennonite Katie Funk Wiebe’s publication of Good Times with Old Times, touted as “an egg with a double yolk” because it is part memoir, part how-to-write-your-own-story book.
So how is my writing different? Well, my world view has been tempered by time and place. No longer a Mennonite, I still identify with many aspects of an Anabaptist vision. Also, I was transplanted to Florida as a newly wed which would affect my perspective. Then too, I have a large set of artifacts and some living relatives that connect me firmly to my past. Like other memoirists, especially of the academic variety, I tend to weave the literary with the familiar. Sometimes readers say they can detect humor in my writing voice, which I hope makes my writing appealing, if not unique.
3. Why do I write what I do?
What motivates me to write is my compulsion to leave a legacy for those who follow, particularly my family. Beyond that, I write what I know and to find out what I don’t know. Many stories are nostalgic, some reflect strong feelings of embarrassment, surprise, endearment (Search the “Moments of Extreme Emotion”); others are historical or hysterical.
4. How does my writing process work?
I was asked that question a few months ago, and the answer turned into a post on the blog of Kathy Pooler, whose memoir launches in this July. A legal-size pad, colored sticky notes, WORD docs, and photos are often part of the process.
A published author of encyclopedic proportions (and I mean that literally) Merril’s blog posts frequently become meditations on the mundane, for example “Airing Out Some Thoughts on Laundry.” Her About page describes her as writer, editor, independent scholar, focusing on the history of women, sexuality, and culture. She has published consistently since 1997 with a forthcoming book with the titillating title: Cultural Encyclopedia of the Breast.
Judy invites you to travel down the corridors of her mind as she narrates stories she heard growing up, from her travels, her family, and experiences in various jobs as radio and newspaper reporter and English teacher. Judy has received numerous blog awards, including The Versatile Blogger Award and The Sunshine Blog Award. In a Father’s Day tribute, Judy included a photo of Dad and her stranded alongside the road trying to fix an over-heated motor.
Merril and Judy: You’re “it”!