Don't Sign Anything and Other Advice for Volunteering Abroad
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The process of writing my memoir began with brainstorming. I created mind maps - the webbed charts of bubbles of related ideas - furiously, trying to get as much from my experience down on paper, as many ideas and memories and facts and people as possible. From there, I reread the journals I had kept. They were helpful for putting together a time-line of more significant events, but were largely full of my complaints and worries and therefore disappointingly less helpful as a chronology of my day-to-day activities. During the writing process, it was helpful to read memoirs. I saw what worked and what didn't, what interested me and what different formats and approaches authors had taken. I began to write. My writings were at first a hodge-podge of short beginnings of story ideas. My advisor and I had decided that my project would be a series of vignettes, so I narrowed down which experiences I wanted to expand into longer scenes. After more and more writing and revising, I began to see the form my full-length memoir would take, and where the vignettes I had chosen for this project would fit in. It was easier to write them with the overarching form in mind. My final collection is five vignettes of personal memoir about volunteering for a mission in Guatemala.