These posts which reflect a New England upbringing are excerpts from A Sugary Frosting / A Memoir of a Girlhood Spent in a Parsonage, the early years of Martha Blowen, my lifemate and business partner who died in 2008.
A bit of background
When you are both a story teller and a story keeper, in thirty-one years of co-habiting with someone who is very verbal, you get to learn many of her stories about growing up in the 1950s. A number of these New England upbringing stories you have heard not only because they are told directly to you as you went about your day—perhaps driving into town—or as you sat in the morning sipping your coffee but also because she told them to others in your presence. Often, details of growing up in a parsonage are added in this retelling or an emphasis changes for the benefit of the new auditor—and unexpectedly you understand a new angle to the story of a 1950s girlhood.
Martha wrote a number of her stories—always in segments. She intended to write a memoir, but her life was cut short by breast cancer before she could realize this goal.
Creating the book
Wanting to finish her memoir, I inserted her compositions about her New England upbringing, chronologically one after the other, into a manuscript and soon realized that there were explanatory details missing—details that I knew not only to be true but necessary to create a coherent memoir. Soon enough, I found myself contributing her words that lived within me into the narrative. These words soon added up not only to details but also to whole stories I recalled. Soon, more of the stories originated with me than from her composition.
Can you tell where one author lets off and the other begins?
You can complement this category by going to the category devoted to My Eye Fell Into the Soup, a journal compilation of Martha’s experience of having cancer and finally succumbing to it in 2008. This book also contains journal entries by Denis Ledoux.
If you already have text but are at a loss as to how to finish your manuscript, this section is important for you.
Shouldn’t writing another person’s memoir be called writing biography rather than writing memoir? You the writer are, after all, not the subject. Doesn’t that make it a biography?
But, are there occasions when a biography can justly be called a memoir?
In one of my books, A Sugary Frosting / Life in a 1960s Parsonage, I used lifestories that my late wife Martha Blowen had composed—and to which I added text. And…
I called the finished book a memoir.
Was this appropriate?
How did I presume to call it a memoir and not a biography?
We'd love to have you access this content. It's in our members-only area, but you're in luck: becoming a member is easy and it's free.
Already a Member?
Not a Member Yet?
While I believe my father did well as minister in Hadwin Park, he was by nature a small-town minister. Coming from the working class, he was familiar and comfortable with working men and women. Or, I might say, he was comfortable being the educated man among uneducated people. His talent was working in a small, […]
Life in Worcester for my family was a 1950’s middle-class existence. It is what I believe my father was striving for when he worked those years in Enfield, CT, after high school and before Bates, those years at Bates working at the telephone switchboard at Central Maine General Hospital, serving as kitchen and dining room […]
Isolated memories that seem too ordinary for a memoir can be a challenge to incorporate into a memoir as they usually lack inherent drama. How to place early memories into a narrative so that they give a sense of the foundation of a life without turning the reader off. Let me know in the comments […]
My uncles came into the parsonage, made their announcement of the decision to remove my grandparents which was a fait accompli that they were not willing to discuss, packed my grandparents up and drove away with them. My parents were in shock.
This is an excerpt from the as-yet-unnamed memoir of Martha Blowen, my lifemate and business partner who died in 2008 of metastatic intraductal breast cancer. The previous post covered Martha’s premature birth and her family’s recent move to Worcester, Massachusetts, where her father had taken on to serve as minister of Congregational church there.
When you are both a story teller and a story keeper, in thirty-one years of co-habiting with someone who is very verbal, you get to learn many of her stories. A number of them you have heard not only because they are told directly to you as you went about your day—perhaps driving into town […]