Monday, December 9, 2013

My NaNoWriMo Memoir - A Slice of the Bronx

NaNoWriMo 2013 is over.  In this fiction writing "contest", your goal is to write at least 50,000. words during the month of November.   The aim is just to put down words - the editing comes later.

For me, it seems the editing comes never.  I am not sure I will do anything with this work in progress, or, for that matter, my WIP of the year before.

This year, my second, I decided to write my memoir, or at least a manuscript that would eventually become my memoir.  The year before, I had done a fictional memoir. (Is there a common pattern here?).  It's working title was "An Insignificant Life".  You'd think a memoir would be easy - after all, it's non fiction.  It writes itself - right?

To that, I maturely respond "Hahahahahahaha".  In reality, I found out how hard memoir writing is, and I haven't even gotten to the hard part yet.

I fought distraction, major distraction, for the first two weeks.  I almost didn't make my 50,000 words.  I needed  a couple of days of epic, 3,000 plus words locking-myself-away efforts to get back on track. (My spouse having cataract surgery, and sleeping for several hours while I was home on a day off helped some with that.)

One of my faults personality quirks is having to research everything.  Just mention something, and off I am on a research mission.  So, instead of pouring out the words, there I was researching the facts of my life.  Did the Third Avenue El cease running in 1973, as I remembered?  (Yes). Was it true that the land where the housing project in the Bronx I grew up in was, before the project was built, occupied by a goat farm? (Possibly).

One advantage of growing up in a big city is that you may find a lot of online resources. Thus, to my delight, I found this short, modern video showing a piece of the neighborhood I grew up in, and what it looks like today.   It shows a lot of landmarks of my youth. The post office, the funeral home, the fire station, the housing project, a church, were all there when I moved to that neighborhood in 1953.

If you don't watch the video, what you see above is a picture of a church, the Immaculate Conception Church, built in 1925. This building, to my delight, even has an article on Wikipedia.  It was one of the landmarks of my youth.  I, along with other neighborhood youth, used to throw rice at weddings.   We went to the annual bazaar.  I learned to ride a bicycle in the parking lot.

So many memories - some good, some not so good.

I invite you to watch the video.  It will give you a short view of a slice of the Bronx.  This is not one of New York City's wealthier neighborhoods, but it is important to note that New York City is a city of people, a city of neighborhoods, and not just a bunch of art museums, fancy stores and skyscrapers.

It was nice having some of this information online - but, in other ways, I wish I hadn't been so distracted.

Have you ever tried to write a memoir?


  1. Alana! There are computer writing helps that you can set in "distraction-free writing mode" and I think they don't allow you to access the internet for your chosen periods of time. That might be a help when you get set to edit your memoir! ;)

    1. I suspect you are right. I know I'm not the only person with that problem!

  2. I think that video was made to keep us away!

    1. The strange thing is, that person (or computer generated voice?) posted a video for several other stops on the subway line that served my neighborhood. I wonder what the person/voice was trying to accomplish.

  3. I watched the boring video. I guess it was a dry type of humor to announce the buildings that way.
    No, I've never written a memoir. Too many people would be upset. Maybe I could write one to be published 50 years after my death. That way, nobody would take offence at my view of what happened.


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