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January, 2008

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January 31, 2008

Some personal histories are about an individual's life. Some of them are about organizations or companies, referred to as corporate histories. And then there are books about communities, towns or cities.

A just released book about La Crosse, Wisconsin was sponsored by the city's historical society.  History of La Crosse, Wisconsin in the Twentieth Century: Reinventing La Crosse Again and Again is a 750 page volume written by former La Crosse Tribune writers Susan T. Hessel and Gayda Hollnagel. According to Hessel (an APH member), “It’s a thrill to be part of the community and feel this passion for the place where we live. It is filled with stories about people who are part of our history, from the ordinary to the extraordinary.”

You can read the story posted online here.

January 30, 2008

The Obituary writer has traditionally been someone who posts to newspapers in an usually consise way the highlights of a person's life. More space is given to the famous, of course, but still it must be difficult to do this.  It's hard to pay respects, or recap a life, in just a few paragraphs.

A growing trend has been the use of multimedia.  Websites like allow for online posting of comments as well as pictures and more in depth coverage of a life.  Many newspapers link to that.  Use of video and audio is also on the increase and journalist/obit writers are taking advantage of the new technology to provide a bigger picture of the deceased.

A pretty fascinating article is at Poynter Online. Linking Life with Multimedia Obits by Mallary Jean Tenore is revealing about how talented obituary writers are using the various technology. (More here).

January 28, 2008

It is more important to write about your life to makes sense of it, to find nuggets of experiences to be shared with others, and to help other people to explore their life by reading about yours

Motive is important.  Why are you telling your story (or that of another)? 

January 23, 2008

A program to help veterans deal with psychological wounds is what the Writers’ Program for Wounded Warriors is all about. Many veterans are desperate to tell their stories and it can be cathartic. But where do they turn? Jesuit brother Rick Curry cared enough to find a way for these veterans to do this, and to find some healing in the process, as reported here at the National Catholic Reporter (

January 17, 2008

Some people claim that certain fashions never go out of style. And we've all seen fads come back around. There does seem to be a cyclical nature to some fashions.

Have you discovered the wikiHow website?  It's a site of "how-to's" and I found it from my iGoogle page.  What caught my eye was the "How to dress in the American 1940's fashion".  This time period of dress is apparently enjoying a resurgence in popularity for women.  You might want to see the info for research reasons if you are writing about anyone who's story included events from the 1940's - go here.

January 14, 2008

Did you get a digital video camcorder as a gift for the holidays? Or maybe you've recently invested in one.  Perhaps you want to know how to use it to create successful life stories. Check out My Living Legacy. The extensive information on this CD-ROM includes what you need toknow for creating a  video life story or video genealogy. 

You also might consider taking a workshop. Steve Pender gets rave reviews for his instructional prowess. He's based in Tuscon, Arizona and you can find out more at his website,Family Legacy Video™

January 10, 2008

In one of those wonderful instances of syncronicity I discovered an online article at the Noblesville Daily Times about a writer who just won first place in the Ray Bradbury Creative Writing Contest.  The writer is Greg Kishbaugh and he won for the story "Magnificent Desolation".  Kishbaugh has been inspired over the years by Bradbury's writing and he'd heard the noted author state in a documentary that it is important to tell people who've been influential in our lives that we love them.

So Greg Kishbaugh sat down and wrote a letter to Ray Bradbury and he was both surprised and delighted to get a reply thanking him for the letter and inviting him to visit!  

So why was this synchronous?  Because I've been reading a powerful little book given to me this year for Christmas by a co-worker. Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury is a series of essays on writing, and really it is about unleasing your creative writing genius by leaping into the process of writing with enthusiasm, gusto, zest and joy!  Bradbury is a masterful writer, and it turns out, an incredible motivator.  Yes, he's gifted and can write fast, furious and with depth.  Granted, not everyone can. But the encouragement he provides in these essays certainly fires me up.  Writing should never be drudgery.  Words can grow wings and the flights of fancy they can take us on is part of the joy of both reading...and writing.

January 6, 2008

I found a fun way to enjoy 50 years of history in a photo montage set to Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire.  Go here.

January 4, 2008

Sharon Lippincott, author of The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing, posted on her blog about another writer's experience with what she calls "story catching". The reference to this from my daily Google News Alert caught my eye so I surfed over to her blog -

She was referring to a life story written by Bob Sather about a man, Al, he met and over the course of the biography they became good friends. The process of how that came about is detailed in an article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Bob would meet regularly over coffee with Al and they would talk and Al would share stories about his life. Bob wouldn't record them; he kept things conversational and would return home to write down what he could remember. Apparently it went well, although this process doesn't work with everyone. For one thing, if the person being interviewed isn't a natural storyteller or leaves out lots of facts and information (whether because they don't remember or don't discuss) it could make for a story with a lot of holes.  But Bob had the benefit of a friendship with Al and could always go back for more details.

I think the combination of preparation, including a list of questions, and building rapport so that the person being interviewed and written about feels comfortable, are both important elements.

January 1, 2008

The danger, as I see it, of an over concentration on New Year's resolutions and reflections is that we can spend too much time fretting over the past and the future and miss our opportunity to be in the present.  Yet, it is inevitable that a new year brings with it mental time traveling. Did the last year prove successful and satisfying? Are your goals laid out for our new period of circling the sun?

Healthy emotional and spiritual balance is worth aiming for. Towards that end I've spent parts of today journaling, making sandwiches for my family, watching football bowl games and updating this web site.  I'm trying to not get too concerned about a "to-do list", or worse, a "to-worry-about list". (Those terms courtesy of an article, Reconsider the frantic pace of life, at that helped spur this entry).

You can plan for tomorrow, but live for today. And a Happy New Year to you all!

Everybody has a story to tell!
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