Starting to Write
Everyone has a story. Everyone has a heritage. Family roots grow deep, giving us stability and understanding of our interconnected lives. My mission is to help others, as well as myself, continue the story-telling heritage.
Journaling is touted as a new path to enlightenment, yet diaries, journals, even rock walls from centuries ago, prove the value of recording daily life and ideas. The World Wide Web gives knowledge about our world and enables us to share thoughts instantaneously. As we share stories we become one in strength.
In mid-years my life called for clarity. I wrote: letters to friends and family that formed a pencil sketch of my life; confidential letters to professional helpers who opened my heart and mind; unsent letters of rage and despair; letters to the deceased. Jumbled feelings and thoughts transformed into stories of life passion and light-hearted joy. This release can be yours as you capture your life moments and record shared family stories.
At times, stories jump from our gut and demand telling. At times, a more structured approach teases the stories to come forth.
Ten years ago I wrote a memory book about my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles; people for whom I had deep love and respect, people whose behavior had birthed both wisdom and welts upon my soul. I wanted to heal the welts and recognize the full value of the gift of family.
First, I rummaged through pictures and selected those representative of my mother. I arranged the photographs in a mini-scrapbooking style:
• Ma clear-eyed at high school graduation;
• A pretty face with the deep dreamy eyes of pregnancy;
• A disheveled mother, baby in arms, a man in overalls, a sturdy toddler, two adolescents.
• A grinning elder in a cowboy hat, straying gray hair, one tooth missing (put away for later replacement) in a Colorado Land Cruiser.
• And others.
Taking a deep breath with eyes closed, I felt mini-memories float to consciousness; I jotted them down, then arranged them chronologically. The photographs merged with the mini-stories; ‘Ma and me’ adventures evolved. With many edits, resentments disappeared, making room for love and respect to mature and expand.
Using the same method, I wrote the stories of my father, grandparents, aunts and uncles. When polished and copied, I shared them with brothers, cousins, children, and grandchildren. Writing is a gift that lasts, a gift for you, a gift for your family, and a gift to lift the world as healing takes place and joy unfolds.
This is my writing mission. You have stories that need to be shared. Feel free to borrow my “method” and transform it into a style unique to yourself and your life. In my next article I will share my friend Maxine Pazen’s method of documenting family history. We missionaries of the written word would like you to join us in recording family tales.