Lesson 2 – Subtopics for Memoir


EXERCISE 2: Under each topic, write at least three subtopics.


1)         Ella, my father’s mother (hardships, life in Milledgeville State

             Hospital, children’s struggle without her.)

Loss of husband, livelihood

Surviving Great Depression

Breakdown/commitment at state mental hospital


2)         Dad (short stories which embody his character, life, faith and values)

Sense of humor; optimism

Deep faith in God

Hard work; General Motors then growing garden while retired

3)         Depression

The downward spiral

Lost in a void

The uphill climb to freedom

4)         Collection of short stories about my childhood and what even the worst

experiences have taught me.

Being bullied in neighborhood and school

Losing pets (accidents, illnesses)

Getting hurt on bicycle, falling

5)         Spiritual experiences

Light at the end of depression


Blue lights

6)         Learning to let go of being the person everyone expects me to be.

Finding my own way (after I realized no one was coming with me)

Searching for my own brand of happiness (because no one else knows what truly

makes me happy)

Finally standing up for myself and my children (with special thanks to my in-laws)

Deciding to be a writer when all I was expected to be was a good secretary

7)         Things my mother taught me that I was reluctant to learn.

Share the best I have, not just what I’m willing to do without

Tell the truth no matter the consequences

Moms worry 24/7, even when nothing is wrong

Being realistic isn’t the same thing as being pessimistic.

When my father/mother dies, I’ll miss him/her every day for the rest of my life.

8)         Counting blessings and forgetting the rest.

I really do have more blessings than problems.

Bad things may make me crash, but good things either catch me or pick me up.

The good inside the heart is always greater than the bad in the world.

9)         The art of being optimistic.

Strength comes from knowing this moment’s problems will pass.

Smile, especially when I don’t feel like it.  Better yet, laugh.

The secret to getting through tough times is to hold on tighter.  Only let go of what

doesn’t matter.

10)       My “other grandmother” at the end of the street.

Mrs. Mansfield taught me many things – crochet, kitting, painting, and gardening.

She listened to all my childhood traumas, even if it was something about my cat.  If

it was important to me, it was important to her.

She taught me the fine art of puttering, whether it was arranging dried flowers she’d

grown herself or painting 12-place china setting with gold leaf scalloped edges.

No dreams are too big.

She sat on the couch beside me as I read my poetry.  Every time I looked up at her,

she was smiling.  When I finished reading, she beamed and told me how wonderful

the poem was.  I re-read those same poems years later.  She was very, very kind.

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One Response to Lesson 2 – Subtopics for Memoir

  1. ethroop710 says:

    Several of your subtopics create a good deal of intrigue, similar to reading the back of a book you’ve heard nothing about and pointedly deciding you want to read it. I look forward to your future posts; thank you for sharing, Jalane!

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