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© Tom  Gilbert

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Writing Whenever You Feel Like It

November 30, 2015

Today I was going to do some writing on a memoir I've started, but when I got home after a long Monday teaching school I just didn't feel like it. I was too tired.

Guess how much writing got done? Right, not a word. If instead, I had held true to a writing schedule the answer might have been that I wrote 500 words. Not much, maybe 15 minutes worth of writing. But it would it have been something.

There are times when we choose not to write because we are exhausted or too busy. And forcing writing at those times might not result in anything good. Or, you might be surprised that 10 or 15 minutes of writing time still yields a gem or two. You never know...unless you actually do the writing.

All through the month of November Denis Ledoux of The Memoir Network has been providing, for free, really good memoir writing tips and techniques. The final one he posted today is the need for a timeline for writing your memoir. He makes the point that if you leave it open-ended there is a good chance you will never get your memoir written. A timeline creates a goal and encourages you to write regularly. This goes hand-in-hand with creating a writing schedule. Some people do best early in the morning, others late at night. Whatever writing time you choose, the important thing is to stick with it.

Even when you don't feel like it. Especially when you do feel like it!

Giving Thanks for Catching Stories

November 26, 2015

It is another Thanksgiving Day. Over the years (since 2003) I've had a chance to reflect on the wide arc of gratitude. I am a firm believer in having an attitude of gratitude. Because I am human I often lose sight of that attitude. But this holiday always brings me back to it.

On Thanksgiving as you gather with your family you might consider how to preserve some of your family history and stories. Don't present it as too big of a deal because you might overwhelm family members. It is a big deal to preserve our stories, but it takes a certain amount of diplomacy to broach the subject.

Patricia Charpentier, a personal historian, writes some good ways to do this and provides some excellent story starters in her blog post, Turkey Talk. I like her approach of focusing on past pets, food, and friends from school.

The Great Thanksgiving Listen is how StoryCorps is encouraging families to get some stories preserved. This year they are recommending it as a school project for high school students and they have developed a mobile ap to use for the recording. There are some good features with it, but also a few concerns. It is well explored by Andrew Shaffer in his post for OUPblog.

An alternate ap with more flexibility created by NaorthBeachApps LLC called the StoryCatcher Pro might be the way to go. APH member April Bell is involved with the ap and it looks to be a good way to go.

I looked back over some of my past posts for Thanksgiving and it brought back many memories. I think my post from last year still holds weight, High Five for Gratitude.

Your Memoir in the Context of the Big Picture

November 18, 2015

My previous post about how our lives and the circles we move in are not isolated from the bigger picture of world events has coincided with another excellent suggestion by The Memoir Network for their November is Memoir Writing Month tips.

Because of social media, the Internet and instant news and communication we know more about what is happening around the world than ever before. When we write stories from our own life experiences it is important to see how they are part of a bigger picture and that's the gist of Denis Ledoux's post about knowing the history of where you live and how it plays a part in your memoir. It is important to recognize and include in your writing how global events impact you. The terrorist attacks in Paris, the events of a big natural disaster, or even a significant sporting event can add good color and background information to what is going on in your life and personal experiences.

Many people are standing in solidarity with the people of Paris, France. That's a story that I've included in my own journal writing. At the same time, this past weekend had the biggest Ultimate Fighters (UFC) upset in history and the winner, Holly Holm, is an Albuquerque native. As a result people here where I reside have been buzzing and understandably proud of her accomplishments. It has put a spotlight on New Mexico and its been a big topic of conversation with many people I know. Yes, I've also written about that in my journal and someday it might get included as part of a memoir about this period of my life.

I wrote about this topic with the article, Your Memoir and the Larger World. That and other articles I've written are available to read and help you with your own life stories. I also recommend you sign up for the free resources and November Memoir tips from The Memoir Network.

The World is Bigger Than Your Country

November 16, 2015

The terrorist attacks on Paris, France this past weekend has again made us aware how precarious our lives can be. We must not cower in fear and we should live each day to the fullest. We never know what can happen.

Your world, my world, our world is bigger than the country we live in. We really recognize this when we travel and experience different cultures. In spite of the diversity there are the common themes that unite us, that of family, friends, love, freedom and (hopefully) concern for our fellow humans. People who attack others out of hate or misguided ideology cast a pall on us. The attrack was on French soil. Victims were from 19 different nationalities. Oh, how I wish there was peace and love throughout our world. Sadly it is not the case.

That doesn't mean we stop caring or trying. Share your stories. Help each other. Teach the children and young people that life is precious and so are the values and experiences of our lives. Let them know that people everywhere are connected - the family of humanity. We don't need more walls, we need to unite and stand against the terror.

We can change the world, but it has to begin with us as individuals and then in our interactions with others. Don't despair. Have hope. Celebrate the good. Thank those who are making a difference, especially the real heroes around us who make a difference when tragedy strikes.

Using Journals Helps Your Memoir Writing

November 10, 2015

I've kept journals for years. I used to write by hand, but for several years now I've typed my entries into computer documents. Handwritten entries are good, but this works better for me. Currently I use a software, The Journal, that I really like because it saves my entries and allows me to import pictures, links, other documents and it is a great organizer. I can pull up past entries easily and I find that reviewing my writing really helps me process my life experiences. 

Even more, my past entries are incredibly helpful for my memoir writing. I often need to go back in time and see what I was journaling. My entries typically are a stream of conscious record of my feelings and how I am dealing with my life experiences. What I wrote about on those days is more accurate than my sometimes selective memory. The same is true about you. Memories fade or become altered by our egos. It's just the way our brains work.

My ideas about how using journal writing helps my life story writing is affirmed and reinforced by another recent Denis Ledoux posting for The Memoir Network and NIMWM, or November is Memoir Writing Month.

Denis Ledoux added a twist I had not considered. If you don't have journal writing from a time in your life that is part of your memoir you can use a visualization exercise and create an imagined journal entry. Doing this will help you recall memories and even details that will improve that part of your memoir because it will be more vivid. It's a really good tip and you can read the post here.

I have also written about the importance of journal writing.

Stories of Hope Struggle to Survive for Refugee Children

November 7, 2015

There is nothing more precious than the smile of a young child, one who is totally preoccupied with the present and overjoyed at the simple pleasures life can bring.

Unfortunately, all too often our world has been a cauldron of heated war and violence and the innocence of children is ripped away. In our current global crisis of war and persecution nearly 30 million children have been driven from their homes. They've been forced to confront a horrible reality that robs them of their youth. Even so, there is still the spirit that yearns to be free and to enjoy the beauty that children often discover through their embracing of life, love and family.

A poignant New York Times Magazine multimedia documentary of displaced children shows us through the stories of three refugee children (Hana from Syria, Oleg from the Ukraine and the South Sudanese boy, Chuol) what life is like in the struggle to survive when families are forced to flee their homes and seek safety elsewhere. Displaced presents powerful and heartwrenching stories, but they are important to know. The future of our world is dependent on finding ways to live together and the incredible responsibility we have to protect the young.

November is Memoir Writing Month

November 4, 2015

Call it a gimmick or call it an incentive. Either way, making November "Memoir Writing Month" has the goal of getting you to do some significant writing on your memoir.

A memoir is not the same as an autobiography. It is a part of your life. It helps to pick a theme and writing around that. How many stories can you come up with about your favorite hobby, life travels, education or spiritual journey? Each of those themes may be ripe for a memoir.

The Memoir Network helps you with November is Memoir Writing MonthMy friends at The Memoir Network have dedicated a number of resources to help you do memoir writing in November. I am just a one-man operation and I do believe I have lots of helpful ideas, but I can only do so much. On the other hand, The Memoir Network has a wide ranger of services and help for your memoir writing. I get the emails and newsletters and already I've seen some excellent tips from Denis Ledoux, including the above mentioned theme approach for your memoir. There is also encouragement to set a writing schedule and ways to bring your memoir to life using dialog. Many great tips and resources to investigate and you can start right here.

Fred Sands, Real Estate Mogul, Gave Southern California Hard Rock Opportunity with Radio Legend KNAC

October 30, 2015

One of the things I find amazing about our lives is how we can intersect and connect with a wide variety of people over the course of a lifetime. In 1987 I took a job in Long Beach, California as a program director for an up-and-coming hard rock radio station. KNAC was a relatively low power FM (3000 watts) trying to compete in the crowded Los Angeles radio market. We were up against some "big boy" radio stations with lots of power and resources. KNAC needed something that would get attention, and hopefully, enough ratings and audience support to be successful. The general manager, Gary Price, was pretty sharp and saw an opportunity for a radio station that catered to the young people in the area who wanted to hear more hard rock and heavy metal bands, like Iron Maiden, Guns 'n Roses, Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica and the like. It was good timing to develop that format and KNAC gathered cult status and became somewhat legendary. It was fun working there.

Every radio station has an owner. Nowadays most of them are big corporations. In 1986 KNAC was owned by Fred Sands, a king of high end real estate. He was making good money and Gary Price sold him on the idea of the hard rock format.

Fred Sands passed away last week at the age of 77. Even though he moved on from the LA Real Estate scene he always stayed working and involved. He sold his California business for more than $100 million and started focusing on rebuilding and rebranding distressed shopping centers.  I was suprised to learn from the LA Times article about his death that he was responsible for turning around an Albuquerque project. Albuquerque has been my home since 1997 and I also lived and worked here in the 1980's before moving to Southern California.

Some people gain a certain amount of notoriety and success in life. And you might never suspect who they help in life. Others don't get the notice, but have lived significant lives just the same. I was reading about a gentleman, George Webster, featured in this story. The 80 year old cowboy reminisced to Daniel Davis about his life and seemed wistful abou the events of the past 50 years. His memory was sharp, but he hadn't had much of an opportunity to make his story known. Now, maybe more will discover his tale. 

Our lives matter. We are all on a journey and we touch the lives of others on our travels. The importance of preserving our stories cannot be underestimated.

The passing of Fred Sands puts me in a reflective state about an important time in my life. Thirty years ago I was part of a special time in radio with a great group of people. It isn't likely to be repeated in my lifetime, but it is part of my story. Coincidentally, I was interviewed about the KNAC days just a couple of weeks ago for an upcoming documentary to commemorate the launch of the station in January of 1986.

International APH Members Make the Long Journey to Sacramento

October 26, 2015

The annual conference for the Association of Personal Historians (APH) just concluded in Sacramento, California. This is the 20th year for the organization so the gathering was extra festive and special for attendees.

The majority of members reside in the United States and Canada, but one group traveled farther than most. This was the small International contingent who attended, including members from Israel, Brazil and Australia. The intrepid Annie Payne (History from the Heart) is a long time member who has been very active working with people to preserve their history and also volunteering a great deal of her time helping other personal historian members of APH. She wrote an interesting blog post, APH Conference: The Travels of International APH Members. Despite the many miles traveled and the fatigue of jet lag, these world travelers are appreciative of the experience to gather with other like-minded "life savers".


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