Laura Hedgecock

Mar 032015
 
Making your stories public

Is making your stories public like acting your life out on stage?

There’s sharing and then there is sharing. One of the more difficult decisions memory collectors and memoirists make is how public we want to make our stories.

Making your stories public can be difficult. Sharing everything is akin to living life out on a public stage and can make sharing your imperfections hard. I remember watching The Jetson’s as a child and thinking how intrusive the video phones were. Jane had her “morning mask” that she used to answer it, but what if the house were dirty?

Even today, before I skype or hangout on Google, I go put on a nicer shirt, brush my hair, and wish plastic surgery were an option. Continue reading »

Feb 262015
 
Memories Family Stories and community learning

Memories, family stories, and community learning were all featured on this episode of Dear Myrtle’s Wacky Wednesday

Dear Myrtle, “Your friend in Genealogy since 1955,” was the would-be storyteller’s friend on her February 25, 2015 Wacky Wednesday show (embedded below). And, as the guest on her show, I got a great taste of community learning. Continue reading »

Feb 242015
 
Lighthouse moments of clarity

Like a lighthouse guiding ships, friends can help us find moments of clarity.

Life lessons are theoretically wisdom we’ve gleaned by doing things the hard way. At some point along our journey of colliding with reality, we arrive at an “ah-ha” moment. Explaining how you gained moments of clarity is a great way to connect with loved ones. (See also my book, Lessons Learned and Are You Older and Wiser?).

However you received your moments of clarity, the circumstances come back to you whenever you’re confronted with a similar situation. If you’re like me (and in this instance for your sake, I kind of hope you’re not), sometimes you come out of an experience with a lot more sleepless hours of fog, bewilderment, and what-iffing, than moments of clarity. Sometimes it takes a good friend, confidant, spouse, or therapist to help us deconstruct. Continue reading »

Feb 172015
 
Cookie Cutter stereotype

Stereotypes can leave you with a cookie cutter character. However, they can help you frame a delicious appealing description.

Are stereotypes bad for stories? Do we want our readers to type cast us—or the loved ones we write about—as simple stereotypes? Or do stereotypes help us build a setting for a story?

Breaking the Stereotypes: Steel Magnolias and Cast Iron Camellias

Stereotypes seem like a cop-out when it comes to describing people, because they are. However, when you use them as a starting point they can be very helpful. Comparing yourself to common stereotypes can help you define who you are. For instance, growing up in the south, I’ve known my share of “steel magnolias” and “cast iron camellias.” Continue reading »

Feb 132015
 
Who inpsires you?

Write about who inspires you?

Roots Tech 2015 (#Rootstech) opened with the question “Who inspires you?” Video clips showed various individuals naming famous heroes. After a few minutes, the answers segued into naming family members. It was a nice way to start thinking about how we introduce our family members. Not just who inspires us, but why or how they inspire.

I felt a pang—missing my Aunt Ann and wishing she could share this adventure with me. She led the quest to explore the Crymes family’s history. In fact, it’s not unusual to see her name as the reference of information on genealogy forums. She’d be awed by the crowds.

“Discovery” is a byword here. I wondered, what drives a person to embark on a journey of discovery? Is it rooted in curiosity? A need to connect and bond? Enamoredment (is that a word?) with the past? Something else? Continue reading »

Feb 092015
 
Cupid stories of the heart

Cupid can pin down great stories of the heart.

Valentine’s Day brings to mind sweethearts, chocolates, flowers, loving or romantic gestures, and sweet nothings–even when “sweet nothing” is literally all we have. In addition to providing a huge sales opportunity to the greeting card industry, Valentine’s Day causes us to pause and reflect on our stories of the heart. We reflect on what we have, what we have lost, and everything in between.

Since, if you buy into my theory, you’re already thinking about it, take a little time around Valentine’s Day to describe the great loves of your life or share the stories of the heart. Likewise, this time of year also lends itself to extracting some of those stories from family members.

Unspoken History to Oral History to Written Stories

You’d be surprised how little prompting some folks need when it comes to a subject near and dear to them—the people they love.

Stories of the heart start at the very beginning.

I’m a great believer in prompts, as you might have noticed. They are especially effective when it comes to teasing out the lesser known aspects of familiar stories. Perhaps the facts of the story are known, but the nuances are missing. For instance, others often know how we met our spouses. What they perhaps don’t know is how we initially felt about our spouse-to-be or significant other.

For instance, I recently read at the Henry Ford Museum that Coretta Scott King had misgivings about the prospect of marrying a preacher. She wasn’t sure she was cut out to be a pastor’s wife. Looking back over her life, that’s such a cool plum of information to understand. Such tidbits add great dimension and texture to stories, especially when others think they already know the whole story.

How we feel now

It’s especially fun to ask older folks how they feel about their long-time partner. If they’ve been married a quarter of a century or more, their stories of the heart are seldom told. A lot of things have become unsaid. It’s a nice chance for them to put their sentiments into words. Of course, the same applies if it’s our own story.

Ask for or Give Advice:

What advice would you give young couples starting out? Over what did you worry too much? What did you take for granted? What would you do differently? These make great interview questions as well as do-it-yourself writing prompts.

Rose bud Stories of the Heart as Metaphors

As much as I love metaphors, the metaphor of blossoming love, doesn’t work for the memory writer. Seldom does love move smoothly from bud to full bloom. It can explode into being. It can fade and re-bloom.

What metaphor works for the relationship you’re writing about? Fireworks that go forever? Fireworks over deep water? A trick birthday candle that can’t be blown out? A climbing vine that rises above adversity –or one that occasionally hangs on by its fingertips.

Your Turn:

You get the idea. Tell a story you’ve never told before or tell it in a new way.

 

 

 

Feb 052015
 

Old cousins welcome new ones A new cousin discovered me recently–through Ancestry.com.  We share the same great-great-grandfather. “Sounds like we’re cousins,” he wrote. “How cool is that?”

Very cool, in fact. Finding new cousins through family history research is an undeniable rush.

His contact once again brought home the value of a family “treasure chest.” Once again, the beauty of my grandmother’s “Treasure Chest of Memories” washed over me and amazed me. Continue reading »

Feb 022015
 

rabbit-rabbit-rabbit2I was awake for 15 minutes on Sunday before I realized the calendar has turned to February. Without thinking, I quickly said, “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” out loud. And my thoughts immediately went back to my dear, college friend Laura.

It’s funny how our quirks endear us to our friends. It’s fun to remember them. They bring a realization of personality and companionship.

My friend Laura was religious about saying, “Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit” on the first day of every month. In fact, she tried to make it the very first thing she’d say each month. Continue reading »

Jan 292015
 
Conference pass

Conferences are for eager learners

No matter what your interest, conferences can be fun and informative. Assuming the topic is related to your vocation or avocation, conferences often provide great networking and brainstorming opportunities. For instance, I know several authors who found the San Francisco Writers Conference enormously helpful in their paths to publication.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be attending the joint Rootstech and Federal Genealogical Societies Conferences in Salt Lake City for the reasons listed below Continue reading »

Jan 262015
 
precious moments as a group

Precious moments don’t always make for perfect poses. **Troublemakers not identified to protect the fun-loving.

It’s been years since the phrase “precious moments” came to mind. Until recently, I associated “precious moments” with the figurines that became virtually ubiquitous when I was in high school. To my teen sensibilities, they weren’t sweet. They were saccharine.

Now that I’ve crossed the half-century mark, I’ve learned to appreciate the subtleties, not to mention the value, of sweetness. In fact, sometimes it’s a whole lot more elusive than drama and excitement. There’s a whole spectrum of things that are sweet before we cross over to anything close to smarmy.

And, it’s not just the figurines that are collectible. Continue reading »