I’ve been intending to do a memoir for years. Basically since I was about seventeen. Of course, then I thought that memoirs were something that “old people” wrote about historical events, such as being in internment camps or surviving a bombing.
In college, I took a memoir writing class. I wonder if I still have the final paper? Anyway, on the first day, our professor said, “Memoirs are of great interest today, because they present one person’s perspective on much larger events. We read so much in history books and documentaries, but never do they say what life was like for one ordinary person living at that time.”
Let’s say that my stories for that class were a little…odd. No awkward first dates, no touching tales of the kind guy at the coffee shop, no back-stabbing betrayals by best friends. The very first hour, our professors gave us printer paper and crayons (yes, it was epic and awesome, like being in kindergarten again) and asked us to draw maps of the neighborhood we would be referencing in our stories. So, we went person to person, explaining this and that, how some people were fascinated by the “don’t-go-there” houses, how this store they would sneak away to to read the books in a corner without buying them, or even the park they played in. They came to me, and I was like, “Ummm….I drew the pastures? Because I grew up on a fish farm and we had cows and alfalfa fields, and the nearest neighbor was a quarter mile away. So, here’s the house, and the barn, and here’s this and that pasture, but the place was all hilly and kind of tiered so it looks funny from a bird’s eye view. And here’s the duck pond, where calves would sometimes drowned. And this is the horse pasture, and here’s where my horse nearly killed us on the guide wires for those tall power lines. And here’s the coyote den that used to scare me at night so Dad took his shotgun and fired a few rounds into the air to quiet them so I could sleep. Oh, and here’s the river where we watched kayakers play in the rapids….and…um…yeah. My friends were our dog Molly, my horse Bruno, and my cow Rose. …sorry, I know it’s different.”
And the rest of the class, I was treated with surprise, a little awe, and in general, I was hard to relate to. But everyone wanted to read more. It was a strange farm. It had fish and cows and goats and hay and horses. It had no cow dogs, but guide dog puppies. It had historic military vehicles and hot rods. It had hydro power plants. It had cows that I tamed, groomed, and showed off in competitions the way that other people do dogs. I had pre-vet level knowledge of medicine. One story detailed how we pulled porcupine quills from a heifer, how we stitched the second eyelid shut on another to help cure pink eye, and yet another one was about cutting warts out of a cow’s ear because it was pulling her ear down too much. Then there was the story about the bull who adored me as much as any puppy, and would only allow me to handle and lead him.
So, anyway, it’s a completely different genre than the fantasy I write about here, so I made it into its own blog, A Cow Called Rose. I just thought my current readers might be interested in knowing that I’ve got more writing out there. This one isn’t as urgent, nor as pressing, as the fantasy writing, so Nicolette Jinks is still my primary blog and will be updated the most often. A Cow Called Rose will be updated on a “whenever I have something to say” basis, though I will try to keep the events as chronological as I can. Please spread the word or follow it if you are interested in memoirs and real-life writing.
Back to editing. I think I owe you guys a Sample Chapter 4.
Your Dearest Nicolette.