I had the pleasure of stumbling across a contributing writer for the New Yorker last night, Dani Shapiro. After reading her article about writing memoirs, I must admit that I am tempted to subscribe to the magazine simply to stay in touch with her writing. Her writing encompassed how one feels while writing a memoir, and that posting on FB does not a memoir make. She’s written three memoirs by the way, pieces of her life that finally became literary pieces of art. I was moved by her process and entertained by her take on our electronic world.
It got me thinking, and thankful, about not having grown up in an electronic world, as my boys have. Remember the thrill of running to the mailbox for birthday cards, letters, or postcards from friends on vacation? Remember the value of hearing someone’s voice on your telephone at just the right moment, for congratulations or condolences or simply to know someone out there still cares? Now, it’s just there, on Facebook or on text…it’s instant messaging gone completely haywire…instant “like” or comments or congrats or birthday wishes. Her article touched on all these topics, but I miss those small pieces of paper that arrived in my mailbox.
Now I can hear everyone saying…excuse me Ms. Maine Mama, but you have Facebook, a blog, Twitter, Instagram…those sighs thinking OMG, I bet she even still goes to the library! Indeed, I do enjoy our electronic world as much as the next person, love the videos my nieces make of themselves just being silly, or my sister’s video finding out that her family bought her Tim McGraw tickets for her 40th birthday. In the same breath, I still send post cards, give cards with handwritten personal messages, send thank you cards, and thoroughly enjoy the tangible feel of a book in my hands and the smell of a library full of paper and ink. I refuse to go to a Kindle and my overflowing bookshelf proves it…I still take pride in my handwriting and love finding great stationary and pens to write with.
Does that make me old school? Outdated? Does it mean my memoir would be less valuable in an electronic world? No…what it means is that there is a medium for everyone so long as the message is viable, meaningful, captive, interesting. What it means is that like many writers, the strength of sentence and vocabulary partner to produce the right message, convey the correct thought, create brilliant images, remind us of something or someone familiar, produce the magic that hold us captive! Words, sentence, illusion, allegory, stories, lessons…sometimes the message just speaks to the audience, and Ms. Shapiro for sure touched a nerve in me, somewhere dormant and tucked away. That’s what good writing is about…electronic, dictated, written, tape recorded, Skyped or whatever…it’s not always the medium but rather the message. But…I have to agree with her that an FB status update does not a memoir make! LOL