Story and Why
"Your Life is Your
© 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.
My 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
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 cowbird.com 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
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
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".
has a story to tell!
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