I don’t remember deciding to write a memoir. Famous, accomplished people write memoirs; I am neither. It seems to me the memoir just slipped in while I was actually involved with something else.
Several years ago I went to Italy with a group from Arizona State University to study Renaissance art in Florence. I was a touring Docent at the Phoenix Art Museum, not a university student. I only planned to audit the course on art history. Somehow, quite by chance, I found myself in a creative writing class with two talented instructors capable of wringing prose from a rock. I had always enjoyed writing— the typical Christmas letter, skits for the store where I worked and poems for special occasions, just silly fluff that I never took seriously. But by the end of our time in Italy the instructors and I were friends and one of them suggested I attend additional writing workshops or follow a course at ASU.
“But I don’t have anything to write about,” I said.
“You told me about some of your life in Spain,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Write about that.”
I’m sure every beginning writer has heard the phrase, Write about a subject you know. I knew something about Spain. After living there for nearly twelve years, I knew quite a lot about it. So, even before I had a definite plan for a book, I had my subject, one I had fallen in love with years earlier—one I still loved.
I took my instructor’s advice and signed up for a series of workshops and classes. In a short time, I had formed an enduring friendship with four fellow writers. For more years than I would like to admit we have written together—critiquing and encouraging along the way. The honest critiques from these writers whom I admire, respect and trust helped with the writing as much as any class or textbook.
Bit by bit my anecdotes became chapters, and bit by bit the chapters grew into a book.