Story and Why
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
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Today was the 10th annual New
Mexico Marathon. I ran the
marathon last year, all 26.2 grueling miles, on a sunny and hot day in
Albuquerque. It was hard, intense and ultimately gratifying.
This year I opted for the half-marathon (the event features a full,
half and a 5k) and I trained well with a group of people this summer.
The morning was cloudy and rain had fallen overnight.
It was cooler and good running weather. I was able to post my
personal best time of 2 hours 9 minutes in my now third official
half-marathon. I know that's not a remarkable time, but for
me it's an accomplishment.
There is also something special and spiritual about running long
distances. I know this truth during the races with all the
people, the camraderie and the excitement. But it is just as
true on those long and lonely training runs.
We are all capable of doing things that push our limits.
Three years ago I didn't really have plans to start running
half and full marathons. But life's circumstances introduce
us to such opportunities, as I wrote about previously in the article, The
When you are working on your own story how do you gauge the accuracy of
your memory? That's something David Carr, media columnist for
the New York Times,
struggled with when writing his own memoir Night of
the Gun. Much of the book examines the
period of his life
when he was heavily into a cocaine addiction, and frankly he didn't
trust his own memories.
His solution was to approach his life story by researching it like an
investigative journalist. He interviewed people from his past
and revisited some of the places from that dark period; the use of a
video camera and digital recorder came in handy. See the
CNN.com entertainment section's article, Former
abuser looks at period of wreckage.
Melinda Copp makes some valuable suggestions on how to go about
researching your life story, including reviewing journals, photo
albums, newspaper archives and interviewing family and friends in her Researching Your Memoir - How to
Mine the Material of Your Life online here at The Cockleburr
Productions, a company specializing in video biographies
(and one of our recommended
resources) is expanding their operations. They will
continue to maintain an office in Chicago, but on September 1 Arielle
Nobile and her husband Nico are moving to Boulder, Colorado and setting
up an office there. That is a beautiful part of the country
(just north of my location in Albuquerque, New Mexico).
You can find out more about Family
Legacy Productions at their
I discovered another great example of perseverance in writing one's
life story. Maurice Nadler penned his story, Dream the
Dreams:My Life: The First 93 Years after encouragement
from one of his sons. Nadler lives an interesting life and he
"re-lived" his memories by going to sleep each night with the specific
purpose of recalling his past events and dreaming about them.
The result was his book, which he wrote himself and typed with one
finger - the only usable one because of a stroke he suffered earlier in
life. Read the story online at WickedLocal.com/Needham
and I bet you'll get inspired about your own project.
When I walked outside this afternoon I was hit by the classic smell of
roasting chile. Late August in New Mexico and you can count
on this smell. The chile crop comes north from Hatch, NM and
the roasting smell is strong and evokes powerful memories.
For anyone familiar with the smell - and the great taste - of
New Mexico cuisine that includes either red or green chile, you know
what I mean. I love it!
I always state that "everyone has a story to tell". I believe
in the value of story - and your life is your story.
However, there must be some caution in pursuing your life story.
What gets written and eventually printed for others to read
needs to have shape, be interesting and convey the important aspects of
one's life. This is why it is advisable to get the help of a
professional. Personal historians who make it their business
to write people's life stories have spent lots of time writing. They
have honed their craft. And they have the often needed emotional
distance from your story.
You might be a great writer for your memoir. Then again,
maybe you need assistance. And if your intentions are
publication for market, you need to read some direct, even harsh,
commentary from professionals. For instance, what Jane Friedman has on
her blog - There
Are No Rules. Her August 17 posting
reveals her concerns about memoir writers who think there story should
be published. Check your ego at the door and see what she
says - here.
I've written numerous times about the value of journaling, especially
for sorting through our thoughts, life events, memories and how we
perceive the important things in our life. You can see some journal writing ideas and
resources I've discovered, as well as the article I wrote, The Journey of Journaling
for some tips and insight.
I've been training for another endurance run. This time I
will do "just" a half marathon. The race is the New Mexico
Marathon, celebrating its tenth year. I ran the full marathon
last year, but have decided I prefer the half this time. It's a pretty
flat and fast course, especially the last 13.1 miles which they use for
half-marathon. We run along the
bosque by the Rio Grande River and then into Old Town Albuquerque.
I'm a bit sore after our long Sunday run, a mere ten miles but with one
of those 2 mile uphill runs stuck near the end of the route that our
training leader likes to toss in for stamina building. It
works, even though running uphill after 7 or 8 miles is a challenge.
I don't run to break any records or to be particularly fast.
It's more of a fitness thing and to stimulate my thought
processes. So I was interested to stumble upon an article about Haruki
Murakami, a Japanese novelist who has recently published a memoir, What
I Talk About When I Talk About Running. He's been running
years, but he didn't really start until he was 33 and wanted to quit
smoking and get serious about his writing. Check out the
article posted at the guardian.co.uk
At 8:08PM in Beijing, China on 08-08-08 the Summer Olympic Opening
Ceremonies took place. It's always a gala event and a global
gathering to begin the games to celebrate athletic excellence - and
hopefully a message of world unity.
Apparently the number 8 is meaningful as a lucky number in China.
No doubt this is why they picked the day and time to start
the Olympics this year in Beijing. There's an interesting
article about it on CNN.com
- Chinese counting on lucky number 8.
Do you have any special Olympic moment memories? I think many
us do. I remember some of the track and field events from
City, 1968. I was a teenager then and it's the first Olympics
that I remember watching on television. Of course there have
the ones in the United States. It will be interesting to
this year's games as China attempts to showcase their country to the
rest of the world. The official site is www.olympic.org.
A giant of the literary world as passed away. His life and his writings
are mythic, and yet he was probably not as well known or appreciated
as he should have been.
He won the Nobel prize for Literature in 1970 and in his acceptance he
quoted a Russian proverb: "One word of truth shall outweigh the whole
He reportedly read "War and Peace" at the age of ten. As a
young man he was a staunch Marxist, but after World War II he was
sentenced to eight years in labor camps without a trial for
criticism of Stalin's policies in a letter to a friend. His
life and his views changed radically as a result of longtime exile.
Later he left his native country and moved to America, but he was
something of a recluse. Still, he was a best-selling writer
and sold over 30 million books.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn has died at the age of 89. The
Telegraph.co.uk has a story worth reading (here).