Story and Why
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
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Get a Little Help From Your Writing Friends
September 30, 2012
of the best ways to move your memoir writing forward is to work with a
group of other writers. A good writing group will give you solid
critiques, inspire you with ideas and most importantly keep you writing.
Denis Ledoux of Soleil Lifestory Network is starting up some small (4 person) writing groups. You can get more information here.
Denis is an experienced and very helpful teacher and writer. A new article posted to his The Memoir Writer's Blog has some insightful things to say about your first draft - Why They’re Called First Drafts.
Too many of us want or expect our first draft to be polished and
perfect. But you need to set aside the critical editor part of you when
you are writing that first draft. Expect it to be messy and requiring
revision. The important thing is to get those first words written.
Unleash your creative juices!
I also highly recommend you find some helpful handbooks for your writing. One that I continually refer to is Turning Memories Into Memoirs.
You can move your writing forward - with a little help from other writers.
Second Chance for One More At Bat
September 27, 2012
I happened to catch a story this morning on NBC's Today Show that helped me recognize once again the power of a life changing event and the wonder of the human spirit.
Seven years ago Adam Greenberg was a rookie up for his first major
league at bat with the Chicago Cubs. On the very first pitch he was hit
in the head by a 92 mile per hour fastball, effectively ending a
career that was only getting started. Just like that. Bam! One
pitch and it's over.
But that's not the end of the story. Adam has been battling back and
along with help from a documentary film maker and Cubs fan Matt Liston,
he is getting a second chance. The One At Bat campaign
helped raise awareness and Adam Greenberg has worked extremely hard. On
Tuesday, October 2, the Miami Marlins are giving Adam Greenberg another
major league at bat against the New York Mets. It's easy to dismiss
this as a publicity stunt, but I think it is a much bigger story and
event than baseball or publicity. It is about living life to the
fullest. Swing away, Adam Greenberg! I hope you get a hit, but
regardless, you have already hit one out of the park.
September 24, 2012
It seems everybody loves a good story. This is particularly true when
the story is well told. Have you noticed that certain people have a
knack for this? The gifted story tellers in our world are a treasure.
Some of them make a career of it (entertainers, writers, historians).
But others are people in our own families who like to regale us with
their stories. Sometimes we've heard over and over again. I have been
guilty of rolling my eyes when a story comes up yet again.
Even so, I enjoy hearing it.
We must value our story tellers. And those who collect the
stories - the personal and family historians. I've been writing about
this for the new issue of the Your Life Is Your Story Monthly Newsletter. It's about to go out, so if you want to receive your free copy go here to sign up and it will arrive in your email box.
Running and Writing
September 20, 2012
Well, I did it. I ran another half marathon. The 13.1 miles is a good length, but only half
of a full marathon! I like the half length as it is easier to do (it is
all relative) than 26.2 miles and a whole lot easier to recover from
The run was this past Sunday - the Chips n' Salsa Half Marathon
- and it is the second year in a row that I've run this race. My time
was ok - about 2 hours and 10 minutes. That's not a personal best, but
not far off it.
I don't really try to run fast. I do it more for the fitness, insights
and ideas. I also find it has a great spiritual value. I don't know if
that makes any sense to the non-runners reading this, but I've shared
my insights with other long distance runners and almost always get
undertanding looks and nods.
As I am constantly involved in the work of writing memoirs, family
histories, biographies and life stories I find that I think about it a
lot. When you are running for a couple of hours you have lots of time
to think. One of the advantages is that it distracts me from the pain
of running a long distance. Yes - there are times when you feel good
when the endorphins kick in. But other times it becomes quite hard.
Most of the pain is mental, so thinking about life story projects and
writing work is a great use of that time. I have received many good
insights for articles and writing work while running.
In 2007 I completed my first full marathon and I shared my insight with my article, The Finish Line. I trained with Team in Training and ran for a cause - the fight against blood cancers. I did fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
with this race. I've since done a couple of other events with Team in
Training. They are an awesome organization and it is such a worthwhile
Whatever motivates you to write about your life is a good thing. It may
be something entirely different than running many miles at a time.
Regardless, keep at it. One mile at a time...one story at a time. It
gets done by breaking it into smaller steps and staying with it. Sure,
it is often hard. But it is so important and ultimately rewarding.
Rock Star Memoirs
September 17, 2012
The Boomer generation grew up with rock n’ roll, so it should be
no surprise that there is a great hunger to know more about the people
who made the music. Titans of rock Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and Keith Richards
have already published successful memoirs. I grew up on rock music and
I’ve found some of these accounts quite fascinating, both as a
fan of their music, but also for the insight into their lives and
commentary on the times.
The rock star memoir trend is not slowing down (see this USA Today article). If anything, it appears to be growing. This year both Gregg Allman (My Cross to Bear) and Steven Tyler (Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?) have released life stories.
Add to the list for this October Waging Heavy Peace from Neil Young and Who I Am
by Pete Townshend. Both of these musicians-turned-authors lived in
the midst of the cultural revolution of the 1960-70’s and have
been very influential. They are highly articulate men with a wealth of
fascinating memories and insights.
Do you have to be famous to publish a memoir of interest to others
besides your friends? Of course not, but it helps to share your life
story within the context of a bigger picture. And I think we can learn
from reading other people’s life accounts so that we can better
share the meaning of our experiences. People relate to the stories of
struggle, hardship, love, loss and success, whether from the rich and
famous or the everyday man or woman.
Consider, too, the spiritual aspect of your life. Eric Clapton
certainly did this in his brave recounting of his struggles with drugs
and alcohol. And Carlos Santana, guitarist extraordinaire, is currently
writing his memoir (in both English and Spanish) and his press release
contains the intriguing statement: “Carlos’s highest wish
is to help readers discover the sanctity, grace, and divinity in
themselves.” (LA Times article)
Your Memoir and Historical Context
September 13, 2012
I've just posted a new article that considers the impact of historical
events from the perspective of your slice of life memoir. It
incorporates what Lisa Dale Norton calls The Larger World.
Read it here.
Reflecting on the 9-11 Memorial
September 11, 2012
This summer my family took a trip to New York City. It was our first visit there since 2001. That
year we spent a couple of days in the city in June before heading
upstate to Lake George to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding
You might have noticed the year of the previous visit was a significant
one. Yes, 2001. How could we know that just three months later the NYC
skyline would be forever altered, as would all our lives as a
result of the terrible terrorist attacks of 9-11.
Our visit this past July was enjoyable for tourism, food and family
time. But it was also important to go to the memorial created on the
footprints of the World Trade Towers. There are two beautiful
reflecting pools where water cascades over the walls and into the
bottom. Along the edges of the pools the names of the victims are
engraved in marble. It is a somber, yet peaceful place. The sound of
the water is soothing and spiritual.
Our lives are short. We don't have much time in the big picture of time
and history to make an impact. Yet it doesn't take much time. A kind
word, a gesture, a hug, a letter, a picture, a memoir - there are
things we can do that can imprint some good on our often troubled world.
Grandparents Day Reflection - Make a Tribute Book for Your Grandbaby
September 9, 2012
Today was Grandparents Day. I have to tell you that holds a more
special meaning for me since the birth of our first grandchild two and
a half years ago. I am certainly not above bragging about my grandson, Jacob
Ray. He's a fun little dude. And it is true that the grandkids name the
grandparents. Despite wanting him to call me Grandpa it somehow comes
out Pa-kin. So I'm Pa-kin. I've grown to like it!
daughter is expecting again and we will soon have a granddaughter in
the mix. I can't wait to meet little Sophia! Today we held a baby
shower for Kristen. Lots of family showed up and we had a good
gathering. Son-in-law Nathan has the proud papa look and Kristen is
A personal history idea you might not have considered is a baby book.
More than pictures, it is typically a chronicle of the first 1-2 years
of a baby's life. You definitely want to include pictures, but also
stories about your bundle of joy. Relate the emotions when you first
held your newborn, when they began to walk or talk, and all the
other special memories that the family wants to preserve. What a
treasure for years to come.
Legacy Keepers has a great sample of a baby book from the Bower family. Take a look at the sample pages. You can contact me for more information or visit the Legacy Keepers web site. I think this would be a terrific gift idea that grandparents could team up to provide for the baby and proud parents.
Labor Day Reflections on the Labor You Love
September 3, 2012
This Labor Day holiday had me relaxing, but also reflecting on the many
jobs I've held in my life, the multiple careers, the type of work that
resonates with me and the purpose of our working lives.
The work we do should have purpose and meaning. And it ideally needs to
be both fulfilling and financially rewarding. Of course, you might have
worked at jobs you didn't like just to make ends meet. Believe me, I
It is expected that most people will hold several different jobs and
multiple careers in their lifetime. The days of working forty or fifty
years at one company and retiring with the gold watch are from a bygone
era. Most of us reinvent ourselves throughout our lives as
circumstances dictate and opportunities appear. Doing the work you love
can be a compelling work or career life story.
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