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#74467 - 02/18/06 08:59 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dotsie Offline
Founder

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Sue, have you read many memoirs? If so, which ones did you like?

Have you read Smashed?

I'm going to read it. There's been lots of talk about it in this town. Remember, my kids are 17, 18 and 20. The schools are forever having evening seminars to alert parents to the weekend activity of our youth.

My husband and I are attentive parents. Our kids can't get away with much, but they still get away with some things. My eyes are wide open. Plus, we always wait up for them at night. Such fun.

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#74468 - 02/17/06 09:17 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sadie Offline
Member

Registered: 10/08/04
Posts: 1274
Loc: MD
Sue,
Just a small note to let you know how much I loved talking with you about your book and writing .

Thank you,
Renee

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#74469 - 02/17/06 09:59 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Dotsie, yes, I do read many memoirs. I haven't read "Smashed," though. It sounds excellent, and I'll have to get to it. Here are a few memoirs I've read recently and liked a lot: "A Match to the Heart" by Gretel Ehrlich, which is about being struck by lightning, and her recovery. She's an amazing writer. I just finished reading Ann Patchett's memoir about her relationship with the writer Lucy Greely called "Beauty and Truth." (Or else the title is "Truth and Beauty"--sorry--I should have checked.) But it delves quite a bit into the writing life, which is quite interesting. Then, Lucy Greely's book "Autobiography of a Face" is amazing. Patricia Hampl's "A Romantic Education" is excellent as is Hope Edelman's "Motherless Daughters." Well, these are some that immediately come to mind. Sue

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#74470 - 02/17/06 10:00 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Thank you, Renee! This means a lot to me. I'm really enjoying this forum and getting to meet all of you. Sue

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#74471 - 02/19/06 07:20 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
Your descriptions in Father were so amazing. You tell without going into great detail. How did you learn to be such a great writer?

I write like I speak...out there, plain and no words that require a dictionary. I would love to be able to write as you do.

Any hints?

[ February 19, 2006, 11:21 AM: Message edited by: Dianne ]

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#74472 - 02/19/06 09:13 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dotsie Offline
Founder

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Great question Dianne.

Were you always a writer, or did your memoir stir your gift? If so, this may sound very weird...but look at the good that came out of your tragic childhood. Not only the gift to help others who have suffered and suffer from sexual/child abuse, but also your gift of teaching writing.

Sue, you must read Smashed. I'm pretty far into it. This gal is an incredible writer. Amazing. I'm going to Google her to see if she's writing anything else.

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#74473 - 02/19/06 09:14 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Dianne, thank you so much for what you say about my writing! Well, to be honest, my writing only improved with practice! I’ve been writing for years; plus, I went back to school and got a master’s degree in writing, so I could study it in a more serious way. You know, writing is a process…much like learning to play a piano. So it’s a matter of sitting down and practicing every day. To be honest, I’m a slow learner, so it did take me years before I felt “good” enough to even try to publish my work.

But, having said this, here are a few things to think about (and practice!) in order to move the process along.

One area to focus is the five senses. This sounds rather simplistic, I suppose, but in order to bring the reader into the heart of the experience, it’s important to create a world, an atmosphere, for them to enter. (Whatever that world might be.) So what does the tangible world around you smell like, taste like, sound like, feel like, look like? And be creative with these sensory images. You know, avoid “the sky is blue.” Instead, imagine it in your own unique way that will reveal you (if you’re writing nonfiction) or your protagonist, if you’re writing fiction. (It’s actually not a matter of using “big” words; more important is to use very exact words, so that YOUR experience sounds different from everyone else’s.)

In conjunction with this, allow this tangible world of the senses to reflect your interior state (or that of a fictional protagonist). For example, if you’re writing about being depressed, describe how the world looks in this depressed state. (In contrast, how does your immediate world look when you’re happy.) In other words, show the experience don’t just tell it. Maybe the goal is to write about being depressed without even using the word “depressed.”

By using sensory images in this emotional way (to reveal an interior state of being), you’re creating metaphors. And this is the heart of writing. By discovering one’s metaphors, you’re deepening the experience. In other words, I think it’s important to go deeper than just the “surface” story of what happened. Of course, yes, it’s important to write the story, itself, of what happened. So, what I’m suggesting is that, in addidtion to writing the story of “what happened,” it’s important to take the reader deeper, into what the experience means. This is done through metaphor.

Let me give you an example, so this doesn’t sound too abstract.

In "Love Sick," here is a passage where I’m describing a scarf given to me by my married lover: “I press the scarf against my nose and mouth. I take a deep breath. The scent is of him—leaves smoldering in autumn dusk—and I believe it is a scent I have always craved, one I will always want. I don’t understand why the scent of the scarf...seems more knowable, more tangible than the rest of him.”

Now, if I’d only written that I have this maroon scarf given to me by this man, this might be intersting information, but it doesn’t reveal what the scarf means to me in terms of the memoir (which is about recovering from sex addiction). So what I try to do here, in the second part of the paragraph, is “slant” the details about the scarf to show how the scarf is a metaphor. If I wrote this well enough(!), I’m specifically trying to show that the scarf is a metaphor for loss, for alientation, etc. (since, because of the addiction, I “know” the scarf better than I will ever “know” the man). In other words, yes, this section begins with my romanticizing the scarf, which is how I felt at the time I got it, back when I was in college. But, in the second part of the paragraph, I try to incorporate my more “writerly” self into the mix, try to deepen the experience by revealing what the scarf REALLY meant to me.

In sum, this metaphoric voice guides the reader through the quagmire of the addiction, revealing, over the course of the book, why I have self-destructive affairs with dangerous men and how this behavior affected my life. These metaphors help to clarify what the surface story is REALLY trying to say, the story that you want to explore.

Well, I hope this is clear? I mean, yes, writing takes a lot of practice, and it is hard work, but it’s also very rewarding. And, in the end, in addition to practice, it’s simply a matter of learning these techniques—such as how to create a metaphor, for example. Sue

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#74474 - 02/19/06 09:19 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
HI, Dotsie, I began writing years before I wrote the first memoir. I began as a fiction writer, and wrote for at least ten years before switching to nonfiction. Then, after the two memoirs, is when I started poetry. Now, I'm back writing nonfiction again (essays), and fiction actually feels very far away from me. And thank you for what you say about my work! This means a great deal to me. Sue

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#74475 - 02/19/06 09:42 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
Thanks! Your words are a keeper for sure (isn't that awful grammar?). You've given me some exercises to work with. Amazing, just like your writing.

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#74476 - 02/19/06 10:54 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
smilinize Offline
Member

Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 3512
Loc: outer space
This reminds me of one of the things I learned in graduate school. It is that intangibles are best described through tangibles--metaphors. Metaphors work on the level of unconscious associations and with the implications of words rather than their literal meaning.

The metaphor of the scarf works with implications in this way for me...

"The scent of him-leaves smoldering in autumn dusk." Scent implies sexuality. It is the remains of a smell which is more immediate. Leaves in autumn are the remainder of the living tree as the scarf is the remainder of a living relationship. Autumn is the end of the bright days of summer, as being alone with only the scarf is the end of the bright days of the relationship. Smoldering is a fire that has been extinguished to burn only on the inside, but no longer flame as the flame of love or lust has been extinguished, but still smolders with heat inside lovers. And dusk is not yet dark (as in completely over and forgotten) but still not light (as in realized by being together with a lover).

Each word is carefully chosen so the image of "The scent of him-leaves smoldering in autumn dusk." works through implications on the unconscious to produce an emotion. When an emotion is described by it's name (love, sadness, anger, etc.) it is understood, but not experienced. When an emotion is described with a metaphor, the emotion is 'experienced.' There is a place in literature for both.

I'm sure everyone already knows all that. I just remembered it and I'm snowed in so my mind wanders.

smile

[ February 19, 2006, 03:15 PM: Message edited by: smilinize ]

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