Memoir Writing As Sculpture - Part 1

First the writing.  Then the book 

A client and I were brainstorming about her work. She was in the place people I work with dream of arriving—a draft manuscript.

She likened the four months of whittling her mass of pages into a structured book, to the sculpting process. She had taken an unexceptional piece of material, (granite perhaps since we are in Ontario)…and she could see how it had become a sculpture, how its shape had emerged as she edited and revised, she said. I cottoned on to this delicious metaphor.

For my client, what at first was material without identity or features now had flow, continuity and shape. In writing, this meant that she was able to answer some key guiding questions, the responses to which had evaded her previously.

What is your book about? She had an answer to that.

What do you want your book to do? She could respond to that.

Who do you want the reader of the book to be? She had conquered that one too.

The writing process is akin to the truth-to-materials principle in art. Begin with the writing and let the book emerge as it will is as truth-to-materials artists respond to the unique properties of the material to direct their art. In memoir, the form of the book, its theme, scenes, dialogue and structure will reveal themselves.

When you try a #dailytrigger or respond to a writing prompt, you are beginning the sculptor’s “roughing out” process. Pages are early chips in the stone or rock. More pages, more marks in the material that follow the grain or respect a vein.

We brainstorm, we listmake, we draft, we revise, edit, polish and revise again. 


Granite rock
becomes a bear, 
becomes a wolf,
becomes a rabbit,
becomes a dove.

And it soars.
from this, it is an outline...that has become a draft.... until 

it soars.

With gratitude for offering his works in progress as illustration and inspiration for this and subsequent blog posts and writings on Writing As Sculpture...
join me in celebrating the art and mastery that is Michael Trotta at
Who is the incomparable Michael Trotta...find out more at

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About Unknown

Patti M Hall is an author, educator and writing coach living near Toronto, Ontario with her two very tall sons.

Hall is a non-fiction writer specializing in the stories of individuals who demonstrate resilience in the face of trauma and personal challenge. Hall is dedicated to helping other people tell their stories through whether that be through authoring books, teaching writers or coaching aspiring memoirists.

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