Experimenting with the Narrative Form
Contributor
Written by
Nancy Hinchliff
November 2017
Writing
Contributor
Written by
Nancy Hinchliff
November 2017
Writing

I started writing my first memoir around seven years ago without even realizing it. I still owned and ran my bed and breakfast, but had joined a writers site and began posting as often as I could, which was just about every day. I wrote articles on every topic I could think of. I even wrote poems...a whole slew of them. I got hooked on writing short pieces. I wrote about Johnny Depp,  how to plant   and take care of an herb garden,  and how to make Christmas cookies.  I had the attitude there was no topic I couldn't

write about. I was encouraged by all the good feedback I got from my readers.

     Then I started writing about things that were closer to me; my interest and expertise in music, my work as a teacher and as an Innkeeper, and closest of all, my family. I wrote about my mother and how she translated everything in life into something positive. I wrote about my father who was a jazz musician. And I wrote about my grandmother, who was the rock of the family. The only family I didn't write about were my daughters. They both told me they were off limits.

     When I wrote my first post about my bed and breakfast, I received a lot of feedback...all positive. Readers said they wanted more. By this time, I was more relaxed in my writing and felt extremely comfortable writing first-person narratives and publishing them online. So, I continued writing about my experiences in the bed and breakfast and started grouping them under the title, Tales from an Innkeeper's Crypt. Pretty soon I had quite a following just waiting for new tales. After a while, they started encouraging me to make a collection of all my stories.

     I thought about it. And thought about it. I wasn't completely sure I was up to it, but one day I decided I would do it; I would write a memoir of the seventeen years I'd been an Innkeeper, rewriting the basic stories I already had and adding more.  I just wrote and wrote, not paying much attention to the format. I finally ended up with around fifteen chapters, in no particular order.

     I worked on my stories for over a year and although they came together individually, I still wasn’t sure how to group them. At first, they were not grouped chronologically, and I thought maybe they would stay that way. Although most of the stories had a story arc, some did not. And I wasn’t sure I wanted to change that. The all-over narrative form didn’t seem to meet the traditional model. I wondered if I should, as the title of this post suggests, experiment with the form.

What would you have done?

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