By the Wind Grieved

By the Wind Grieved
“O lost, And by the wind grieved, Ghost, Come back again.” Thomas Wolfe

Friday, April 19, 2013

From Memories to Memoir: Getting the Story

OK, I got the client; I invested in a MacBook and the Audio Note app; now I had to gather the material for my client's memoir.

 Fortunately, my client had attempted to get portions of his life down in writing, and he gave me hard copies of four or five of these narratives, as well as a Power Point presentation he had done detailing the main parts of his life within the context of a major historical period. He also gave me the journal his mother had kept detailing his family's refugee/immigration experience when he was a boy, and photograph albums from early periods.

The point is, get your hands on any materials the client may have at the onset of the process. These materials were my starting point. They allowed me to construct a first outline of what he saw as his story.

Now came the interview. After taking time to do a preliminary review of the materials the client had provided, and to construct an outline, I set up an interview schedule with him. Because I wanted some structure to the interviews, and because I had a sense of the details I wanted from the narratives, I provided him with a list of questions via email. I have continued to do this each time we meet. Generally our interviews last from two to two and a half hours.

The hard work comes in transcribing the interview notes into a cohesive narrative. My client often jumps from one memory to the next. Sometimes the periods he describes are separated in time. At first, I was adding sections from the Audio Note notes to the initial outline I had created. But, the outline grew to massive proportions. Because I am working within a chronological framework,I wondered if there were a different tool I could use besides a master outline to keep the different sections organized.

In my next post, I will discuss a word processing program I found that is designed for long writing projects called Scrivener.

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