Last semester, in my Writing for Children class at Marianopolis College, we talked a lot about the connection between our real lives and our stories. I'm one of those authors who draws on memoriesand felt experiences when I write fiction... and I think, in some way, most other authors do, too.
But I am also very interested in the memoir form -- writing about one's own experience without transforming it into fiction. I just finished reading Augusten Burroughs's memoir Running With Scissors. It's a wonderful book and it tells the sad and zany story of Burroughs's growing up. His parents were kooky (to say the least) and his mom gave him for adoption to her psychiatrist, who was even kookier. But the book is also about surviving difficult circumstances, and it's about the power of writing. Though Burroughs wasn't much of a student (he's mostly skipping school in this book), he was hooked on writing. In the memoir, this is what his friend Natalie (one of the psychiatrist's daughters) tells him: "You've always been a writer. For as long as I've know you you've had that pointy nose of yours tucked into some notebook. You've lived with my family and noticed every single thing about us." I love what Natalie says here about noticing things -- that's something writers really need to do.
Did I mention that while I was on the train going to London, Ontario for a school visit a couple of weeks ago I wrote a personal essay, too? Mine is about saying good-bye to a class at the end of the school year, and it was published in Friday's Globe and Mail. I'm going to try and give you the link to the essay, if you want to have a look. Here goes: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/hug-it-out-class/article1169954/