Story and Why
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
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Nora Ephron - wit, guts and LOL
June 28, 2012
Nora Ephron, the screenwriter responsible for some of Hollywood's most
beloved films, including relationship comedies like "When Harry Met
Sally", "Sleepless in Seattle", "You've Got Mail", but also
the hard hitting social commentary "Silkwood", has died at the
of 71. She'd been fighting blood cancer (myelodysplasia) for six years,
but kept her sense of wit to the end.
Ephron was a great screenwriter and her characters were funny and
poignant. I like to encourage people who are creating their memoirs to
include those key elements. To be funny and poignant in your life story
requires wit and guts. Nora Ephron had that in spades. She
grand essayist, novelist, journalist and speaker. Her legacy is
spilling out across the Internet. We're reading of her death and yet I
find myself smiling, even laughing out loud (LOL). How nice that she
can bring us some "good medicine" in spite of her sad passing.
Ephron was an Editor-at-Large for The Huffington Post and they have posted a nice tribute to her.
June 25, 2012
I must admit to not knowing about the magazine, Reminisce, until
recently when I mailed in a card from inside a Reader's Digest
for a free copy. If you are looking for a magazine that takes you down
memory lane, especially the first half of the 20th century, you should
check it out. The magazine reminds me of the style and presentation of Look and LIFE. Readers can
submit photos and recollections from their past. If you go to their
you can get a good sampling of what they offer. It might come in handy
if you are writing about your life and need a "time tunnel trip down
Train of Thought
June 21, 2012
you reflect on your life you will find there are different
bring up varied memories and associated emotions. Sometimes those
emotions cloud your recollections. You’ll be thinking about
that reminds you of another time and soon you are off-track and
derailing your train of thought.
Preserving our life story
requires chronicling the events of our lives, but not just by listing
them. We want to tell of the key experiences that have been significant
to us. How we were raised, where we lived and the important life events
all contribute to our story. This can be a very great undertaking.
personal historians will encourage you to create “Memory
think it is an excellent idea. Writing short phrases that help you
remember certain times and things in your life are a great way to
develop topics for your life story. After you’ve come up with
number (it is not unusual for a memory list to grow to over a hundred
items or more) you will begin to see patterns in your life and these
can become chapters in your story.
Keeping a focus and
developing these themes is not easy when your life story project is
spread out over a long period. But that is the nature of life story
writing. You are not always going to be writing about the same time
period or events. It is common to skip around. One day it is about
summer camp when you were eleven and jumped off the cliff into the lake
the first time. Next time you might be writing about a business turning
point during a midlife crisis. Another trip down memory lane finds you
fondly recalling your grandparents. In a more somber moment you are
reflecting about the death of your mother.
The end result of
your life story may be linear, but not always told in that fashion.
Keeping your train of thought can be a challenge.
Train of thought
has become an apt metaphor for me of late. I decided recently to take a long train trip to visit family
in Kansas City.
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Late Night With the Summer Solstice
June 20, 2012
Today is the summer
the longest day of the year. Normally it falls on June 21, but with
this being a leap year we had the extra day in February so summer
officially kicked off today in the Northern Hemisphere.
The start of seasons are traditionally times to celebrate and people
around the world do it in different ways. The ancient Egyptians and
Incans found ways to keep track of the sun and celestial events and
considered the solstice important. Same goes for the celebrations at
Stonehenge over the past 5,000 years. In Norway it is a day of fun in
the midnight sun.
On the summer solstice, the Northern Hemisphere
receives more sunlight than any other day of the year (interesting info here
courtesy of National
That doesn't make it the hottest day, just the longest. Here in New
Mexico it is already closing in on 8:30 at night and we probably have
another hour of light, although it is starting to look more like
Long days when it stayed late until bedtime for youngsters brings back
memories of playing with the neighborhood kids when I was growing up.
We'd ride bikes, gather around streelights about the time it was
getting dark, and "ooh and ah" over fireflies.
Here's to summer, my favorite time of the year! And for all you folks
in the Southern Hemisphere, hope you are staying warm. I was reminded
by Annie Payne in Australia (History from the Heart)
that they are in the midst of winter. Enjoy your time and the seasons
wherever you may be. You are living your life...and that's the stuff of
your life story.
The Questions People Ask When Starting A Memoir
June 18, 2012
So you are thinking of writing about your life. You have considered an
autobiography or biography (one you write, the other someone writes
about you). Then you discover that what you really want to write about
is how you feel
certain part of your life. You've been told this is a good idea as it
is not too daunting and it allows you to focus on one area of your
life, rather than taking on too much. This is true.
As you sit down to begin you suddenly realize you have some questions.
You are wondering how to start, what to include, what your family will
think, whether to just copy from your journals and if you will need to
write a whole book.
The top six memoir writing questions are something Linda Joy Myers, a
writing coach and memoir guru, has encountered countless times. She
shares her insight on these questions and provides some helpful tips on
her Memories & Memoirs blog.
Making A Book While You Wait - The Expresso Book Machine
June 11, 2012
Self publishing continues to be a growing industry. More and more
people are turning to the various options to putting out a book.
As a personal historian I advocate clients self publishing their
finished product. Naturally, what they get as a finished product
depends in large part on the quality of the writing, the
who binds and prints the book. Not all print-on-demand services are
Nevertheless, I find the story, Indie
bookstores embrace instant publishing machine, about the
Express Book Machine interesting (CBCnews).
The equipment can be bought or leased and a perfect bound/soft cover
book can be produced in a matter of minutes. As a result a number of
bookstores are investing in the machine. They can set it up in their
store and with properly submitted PDF files a book can be produced.
Older books on file and available through places like Google Books
can be printed, but most customers are people wanting to print their
own book. Life stories and memoirs are a natural end product. Plus, it
seems like a great conversatin piece as well as a means of revenue for
indie bookstores, many who are struggling to survive in the evolving
book and publishing world.
I'm not sure of the quality of these finished books. The company that
makes the product is On
Demand Books and you can read about
their equipment that includes a Xerox 4112 copier/printer combined with
their software and other technology. A "bookstore in a box" is how they
describe it. A pretty informative video is online at
Your Life Story Soundtrack
June 10, 2012
What role does music play in your life story? It seems everyone has
certain songs that have meant something special to them. There are
those songs that resonated with you in school, on a vacation or maybe
at a particularly challenging time in your life. And how many couples
have "their song"?
As a lover of music and a former radio dj I favor all types of music
and as a personal historian I love to find songs that talk about
memories and living. I wrote an article about that a few years back.
You can read Striking a
Chord for Memory here.
Stefani Twyford, video biographer in Houston (Legacy Multimedia), wrote a post
a few days ago about this very subject after experiencing a Jerry Jeff
Walker concert. It's nice to know others are tracking on some of the
same life story subjects.
Ray Bradbury Vision on Creativity
June 8, 2012
In Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing (a really terrifically
inspirational book) he speaks of a new definition for work - the word
he uses is love.
Well, there it is. You must love what you do and if you love the work
you do then you are alive, full of purpose, and happy (even in the
inevitable struggles that work can bring).
died on Tuesday, June 5. It kind of snuck up on me and that disappoints
me somewhat. But you discover news when you do and I guess last night
working at the hospital in the middle of the night was that time for
me. I was reading the Google alert emails I get for the term
"life story writing".
He was 91 and I've been kind of watching for news about his inevitable
passing because he's always been one of those writers I admire and I've
loved his views on creativity. Ray Bradbury was much more than a
science fiction writer. Yes, he made his mark in that genre, but he was
prolific in poetry, horror, speculative fancy and wrote numerous
plays/screenplays/teleplays, essays and even opera. Ultimately (like
all great writers) his work cannot categorized in one genre.
Drive In History
June 7, 2012
you catch the Google Doodle
commemorating the opening of the first drive-in movie
theater? Those doodles are always pretty creative and this one
included a short video clip. You might also
get a kick out of a few hidden surprises (as reported
by the Christian Science Monitor).
Camden, New Jersey was the site 79 years ago that launched a period of
Americana that tickles the nostalgia bone for many of us. I remember
going to drive-in theaters as a kid with my family. And I'm not ashamed
to admit I'm old enough to have experienced it a few times as an adult,
although by then the drive-ins were an endangered species. There is an
interesting article on the history of drive-in movie theaters here at About.com.
There was always something special about drive-in theaters. I think it
was mainly the ambience. You could sit in your own car, but you were
surrounded by others doing the same. The smell of popcorn mixed with
summer heat and the community of autos all parked facing a giant
screen. We'd strain to hear the audio on those little speakers next to
the car (eventually the theaters came up with low-power FM signals so
you could tune in the audio on your car radio).
Drive-in movie theaters are not extinct. In fact, in some places there
are making a comeback. Find out if there is one near you at www.drive-in.com.
Pink or Blue - Cupcake Clues
June 3, 2012
Yesterday my daughter and son-in-law hosted a party for parents and
siblings. Kristen is about halfway through her pregnancy with their
second child and the purpose of the party was to reveal the gender of
our forthcoming grandchild due in October.
Tension was high. We were all anxious to know if Jacob would have a
little brother or sister. He's two and a half, so you can't get a
straight answer out of him, even if he did know in advance. "Jacob, are
you going to have a sister or a brother?" "Brother?", he'd mimic back.
"Is it a brother or a sister, Jacob?" "Sistuh?".
it was cute and clever how Kristen and Nathan disclosed the news. We
all got a cupcake and were instructed to bite into it at the same time.
Inside was frosting - either blue or pink - to reveal the closely
guarded secret they'd known since Thursday.
"It's pink! Hurray! A baby girl!" We are excited and feeling blessed.
Of course, another boy would have been wonderful, too. But having both
a boy and a girl is special. What a fun evening for all.
Multi Generational Tattoo
June 1, 2012
Back in 1991 I was taking a freelance writing course in an
attempt to jumpstart some writing work. One of the articles I
worked on as a course assignment was about the growing numbers of
people getting tattoos and piercings. I wrote the article and my
instructor gave me some good feedback to make it stronger. But I never
submitted the article. Why? Well, I thought interest in this type of
body art had already peaked. Boy was I wrong!
It seems just about anybody and everybody will get a tattoo. All kinds
of tats for all kinds of people. Most do it for reasons of self
expression. But what if they were connecting themselves in some way?
Certainly that has been the case for many in the military. Same for
fraternities, sororities and various social groups. Yesterday (thanks
a post on Twitter by LegacyKeepers) I came across a story AARP ran
about 3 generations of women in the same family getting the same
tattoo. My Grandma's
Tattoo is an intriguing tale of how sisters and
their grandmother who are spread out around the world found a way to
connected. The short video the Harple family had made to document this
was awarded Best Video Program Online at the 2011 min Editorial and
Design Awards in New York - more here.