By the Wind Grieved

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

Friday, June 21, 2013

Apps for the Memoir Writer-Recording the Interview

Things have come far since I started writing and editing submissions for a newsletter a decade ago. While I had access to a laptop, it didn’t occur to me to use it when I interviewed subjects for my pieces. Instead, it was the usual notebook and tape recorder. Thankfully, those days of interpreting my scribbles, and then of rewinding tape, listening, and painstakingly transcribing the interview, are gone for good. 

Instead, there are apps! The first thing I did when I finalized the agreement with my client to write his memoir/autobiography was to explore recording apps. I had already upgraded my technology with a MacBook, and now I needed something I could download to my Mac to replace the tape recorder. 

What I found was AudioNote, a notepad and voice recorder app put out by Luminant Software. Designed for note-taking students and employees, this app is also perfect for interviewing a client or the subject of an article. It allows the user to record the subject and at the same time take notes using the keyboard.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Structuring the Memoir

With the first draft of my client's memoir now coming up to 90,000 words, I am looking ahead to getting the rest of his memories down on paper. At that point, when the complete narrative is lying in front of me like a cadaver on an examining table, (a simile I recently used in my client's story; he is a surgeon after all), I can focus on the structure.

This is a big thing, and in preparation for it, I have been reading samples of memoirs, seeing where they begin, what the author has emphasized, and how she (or he) deals with the chronology of events. (An anthology works well for those who want a quick view. Modern American Memoirs, edited by Annie Dillard and Cort Conley is a good one, as is Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir, edited by William Zinsser.)

Right from the get-go, I feel a little constrained here, because my project is essentially an autobiography, and not a memoir. In its current version, I have used a straight chronological format, from birth to retirement. Now, however, I need to distill out the meaningful events in each period, and tie them together in a way that moves the narrative along and creates, at the end, a thematic and structural whole. Perhaps, rather than move along a straight timeline, the themes that are emerging will dictate a different structure.