Writers Connect: Jacqueline Masumian

We’re very lucky here in Fairfield County, Connecticut, because we get a constant stream of authors willing to visit and share their wisdom. I’m not saying that selling some books has nothing to do with it, but I’m often impressed by how willing they are to discuss their writing process, how they found an agent, etc. So I’ve decided to begin recording some of them, and asking for a piece of advice about writing.

 

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The first up is Jacqueline Masumian, a local writer, whose memoir, Nobody Home, has garnered critical praise. I loved her book; it’s a charming memoir. From her childhood in Ohio, to her life as a landscape architect, via acting, singing and market research, she takes the reader through a vivid journey. The memoir tries to make sense of her distant mother and a father who left the family when she was a child. Attempting to understand one’s family is something I suspect most of us do. Jacqueline has made it possible for us to understand hers in a very readable way.
When she came to the Westport Library recently to talk about the art of memoir, I asked her what particular advice she would give to her fellow writers.Here’s what she said:
The best advice I could give would be to share your work with a group of other memoir writers; a workshop setting gives you deadlines, forcing you to write every day, and provides very valuable feedback on your writing. Groups in which you read out loud to the other writers provide a special advantage, because reading your work aloud alerts you to any awkward sentences or incomplete thoughts you may have overlooked. I could not have written my book without the many thoughtful comments of my workshop friends.

 

June = 30 Days of creativity

Last year, in a rash moment, I signed up to do thirty creative things in the 30 days of June. I’m not sure where I heard about this idea, but I found the website and I was intrigued. I remember telling my writers’ group about it, and promising to share what I did, as a way of ensuring that I followed through. I encouraged them to do the same. There were murmurs of interest (I thought) and approval, but it turned out that I was the only one of us fool enough to do it.

And yet. It was one of the most unforgettable months in recent memory. I posted the results on my Facebook page and you’re welcome to check them out. They ranged from a not bad drawing of a lighthouse (left), to an OK weaving project, to a so-so papier mache bowl, to the world’s worst lanyard (below). I was desperate that day, having only an hour or so, and thought a lanyard would be easy. It took me an hour and three YouTube videos to work out how to start the damn thing. Anyway, point is, it’s a challenge but it’s very rewarding, and you can make it as complicated or as simple as you like. I used a great blog from a Canadian artist called Gail for a treasure trove of relatively easy ideas (Gail teaches art to elementary school children – don’t laugh, some of those projects were harder than they looked!).

Point is, it stretched my brain in a completely different way. This is the third year that the organization is running this project. here’s what they have to say about it:

30 Days of Creativity is a global social initiative encouraging people to create stuff (anything) every day for 30 days in June. 2012 is our 3rd year. We hope to make it a big one. Your brain is like a muscle. When you exercise it, it gets stronger.
Give it a try. I can’t do it this year, because I’m going to be away from June 3-13, which takes a chunk out of the moth, but I’ll be signing up again next year.