I have been taking a memoir writing class for the last four weeks. Each week we get an assignment and then share it at the next class. The assignments are prompts but a little more personal. I guess that is because we are telling our story. Two weeks ago we were to write about a turning point in our life. The first part of the assignment was to list ten turning points in our life. That in itself was a challenge. We were not to write about big things like getting married or landing the first job. We were to focus on things that were deeper; the day you got your first period, the day you found out your father was cheating on your mother or the day you decided to quit your job. The prompt was, “It was a time when….”
I’m a dutiful student so I made my list and thought hard about turning points. The one that glared at me was the turning point that led me to write. It was a time when seemingly little things would make me very sad. It was a time when I realized I needed counseling for my depression or whatever it was that triggered the tears. I kept a journal during that time to capture some insight into the problem. The therapy helped me and as a side benefit set my muse free to express feelings in poetry and other creative endeavors. If you are a writer and reading this you might have had that experience.
When doing the class assignment I found that there was still a charge on the long ago stuff that had made me sad. I knew I had to write more. The teacher must have known this because the class assignment for the next week was to write the same story from the third person. So instead of saying, “when I was a sad …” you would write as the observer, “when she was sad….” We were not allowed to just take the first assignment and change the pronoun. It was to be written from another point of view. I found this very challenging and it took several days. A strange thing happened when I wrote from the third person. I found that all my adult wisdom was available to me. The old emotion was transformed. What a blessing to have the two perspectives.
I’m sharing this because I can see how this would make characters in a story more dynamic or just enlighten you about your own story. My writing teacher suggests this as a way to open things up when you are stuck in writing a piece of your story. This week the assignment is to write the same story from the point of view of others in the scene. I can hardly wait to see what unfolds but maybe I already know because it is my story.