Monday, June 1, 2009

What jogs your memory?

This morning I had a facebook friend request from a girl I was friends with in elementary and middle school. We weren't best friends or anything, but we lived in the same neighborhood, went to school together for a long time, and were in Girl Scouts together. She was one of those people who I always liked, but was never especially close with.

That got me thinking about elementary school, which I mostly only do when I'm mining my memory for ideas. It turns out my old school has a group on facebook. So I looked at some of the discussion threads. A guy who was in my fourth grade class recalled our teacher (a man!) reading us Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing every day after lunch. I hadn't thought about that in years, but I certainly remember it. That was the beginning of my obsession with Judy Blume books. Which, I'm sure, influenced me as a writer today.

A little over a year ago I did a writing exercise that really got me into the head of my eleven-year-old self. It was the first assignment for a writing class I was taking online. The assignment was something along the lines of remembering an incident from your own childhood, and then writing it as a narrative, with dialog and everything. You could keep it more or less factual, change it to make it more exciting, or change the names of characters. I chose to write about an unfortunate roller skating incident when I was in sixth grade. Once I got rolling, (no pun intended!) I was able to recall more and more details about what happened. Then I was able to better embellish the truth for the sake of a good story.

So here's the question of the day: What gets you into the head of a school-age kid, to better help your writing?


Tess said...

I dont know...good question. I guess it's a mix of my own personal experience/memories, other well written books and observation of the world around me. Mostly, my own experience, though.

Sherry Dale Rogers said...

I guess the way I get there is this. When I was a young one I always remember saying "Adults just don't understand." Now as I got older I realized that they simply forgot what it was like to be a kid at any age. So when I was twelve (one of my fav. ages) I made a promise to myself to always remember what it was like to be a kid.

As an adult I remind myself that to be a kid its hard and complicated, yet at the same time the most fun. Life is confusing yet simple. I don't think people really understand the delicate web it take to mold a person.

I hope as long as I live I will never forget what a child's heart is like. Im my novels I try to capture that luminous hope.