Jun 042016
 
Daddy with childhood dog

Animal stories reveal character. Think about your family members and which animal stories you could tell.

My neighbor Frank likes to say that the way people act around dogs shows what type of person they really are. He’s right. Animal stories reveal character. Frank has never gone so far as to say that if someone doesn’t like dogs, they have questionable friendship potential, but I suspect that thought has crossed his mind.

How Animal Stories Reveal Character

John Grogan’s memoir, Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog is a great example of how animal stories reveal character. In Your Life is a Book: How to Craft & Publish Your Memoir, Brenda Peterson and Sarah Jane Freymann explain the popularity of the yellow lab as a character. “One of the reasons Marley is such a beloved character … is because Grogan reveals his dog’s flaws as well as his joys.” The same holds true for the author. We don’t just love Marley. Continue reading »

May 132016
 
Lost and found story- letters spelling out Lost

What’s your lost and found story. (Letter images by Leo Reynolds. https://is.gd/LU27zB)

“How could we have lost something so precious?” my friend lamented to her husband. Dusk approached. She, her husband, and various friends had searched throughout much of the previous night and all that day for their elderly little dog that had wandered off.  Their story is still unconcluded and it’s hard to watch it unfold.  But it made me think. We all have at least one major lost and found story.

Perhaps it’s a lost object that still sticks in your craw. Perhaps you’ve had an experience analogous to the finding the prodigal son.

Writing about things lost and found

Whether there’s a happy ending or not, stories of things lost or lost and found make compelling narratives.  In fact, such stories are easy to find all over the Internet.

Most of us have been there. For instance, there was the 10 minutes during which my then 5-year old was missing at the Salt Lake City airport. I can still remember the panic I felt and the way that I wanted to strangle the slow-to-take-it seriously airport security guard.

Elements of your lost and found story:

1. What went missing? (duh)
Object, person, pet, or other.  It may have simply disappeared or was stolen.  Wallet, military metal, vacation or wedding pictures all come to mind, but you can take a creative twist on this topic.  One example is Kannaki’s “My Mother’s Shoes.”

2. Why did it matter to you?
This could be obvious, such as in the case of a five year-old, but it isn’t always. Perhaps the crucifix that went missing had been passed down from your grandmother, a life-long devoted Catholic. Perhaps it had brought you comfort on numerous occasions.

3. How did you discover it (he or she) was missing?

4. How did you feel about it at the time? What was your state of mind?
In the case of my friend, her word choices are telling.  The rest of us consider her little dog as “gone missing.” We use a blameless phrase. Repeatedly, I’ve heard her say, “I lost my little dog.” She’s shouldering the responsibility, way more than she should.  What happened in your story? Did you feel responsible? Victimized?

5. What measures did you take? Posters? Letters? Flyers? A reward?

6. Who helped you search? Were they actually helpful?
I can’t help remembering that security guard blithely pointing out every young boy in plain sight.  “Is that him?”  “What about that child?”  Me nearly yelling, “Get on your radio!  None of these children are wearing a dark blue shirt with a rhino on it!”

7. How did the story turn out?
Of course you have to of the outcome. But that doesn’t have to be the way the story ends.  Instead, you can talk about silver linings, what you learned, any insight that might be applicable to the rest of your life.

8. How do you feel looking back?
We can often reconcile ourselves to events only after time has passed.  For instance, after my parents died, my sister and I were never able to locate my father’s wedding ring, which he kept on his key-chain.  It used to keep me up at night, wondering what clever hiding place he thought he’d found shortly before he took his trip. But over time, hope has diminished. After all, it was a material thing. I’ve made an uneasy peace with the loss.  What about you?

Your Turn:

What your lost and found story? How have you told it? How have you shared it?

 

Jul 022015
 
Hometown context - a graphic of houses along a river

Adding hometown context can help your stories come to life

Your hometown comes to represent much more than the place you grew up. It’s your version of your state and country.

When we write about family members, ancestors, or ourselves, it’s important to give readers a glimpse of that hometown context. It helps explain worldview, values, and traditions. It helps them understand the personalities involved in our stories.

For instance, my hometown still colors my perception and understanding of events, even though I’ve now lived away from South Carolina as long as I lived there. It’s part of me. Though I’ve lived in the mid-west for over twenty years, I still consider myself a southerner. Continue reading »

May 062015
 
Emotional furniture of your memories of your first home

As you write about memories of your first home (or any other place), include some emotional furniture.

When I first heard the prompt “Write about your memories of your first home,” my first reaction was, “Oh yeah, write about the place I can’t remember.” I wasn’t alone. The woman next to me offered aloud, “My first home after I got married?” She grew up as a military brat. She couldn’t even remember the number of home she had lived in, much less any details about the first one.

Of course, she was right. There’s several ways to adapt this prompt into something that will resonate with you and your readers. The point is to get your memories to paper and to connect with others through your stories. For instance, in addition to writing about your actual first home, Continue reading »

Mar 312015
 
Going back in a Holodeck

Going back via a mental Holodeck

We all know that going back home isn’t an option. But a girl can dream.

Last week, as the plane approached Greenville-Spartanburg (South Carolina) International Airport, the sight of red clay gave me a twinge. Home beckoned like a taunt. “Come back… Oh yeah. I forgot… You can’t.”

In my defense, I’m not trying to go back. I’m here to live in the present. To spend time with the people I love now. But, however much my intellect knows that going back isn’t possible, it can’t control my heart. The past, unbidden, beckons in my psyche. Continue reading »

Jun 172014
 
In this house now and then

The Crymes house then and now. Many wonderful things happened in this house.

Homes are the settings for our stories. With the passing of years, we become emotionally attached to the building itself. The house itself is akin to a repository of the thing that happened within its walls. Years ago, I saw a van stop on my street to disgorge a group that stared wistfully at my house. Since my house is relatively unremarkable, I immediately knew they were former residents of my home. My husband and I went outside and heard stories come tumbling out of each of them. We received an education about things that happened in this house during the fifties and sixties. Continue reading »

May 062014
 
Road Trip Memories

Do your road trip memories include going over the hills etc. to grandma’s house?

Hours in a car doesn’t sound like the stuff of great stories. Admittedly, the mind-numbing monotony of the passing miles might not make for interesting reading. Nevertheless, many good stories—if not pleasant memories—grow out of road trips. No doubt when good friends or family members get together, someone is going to bring up a story related to long trips.

Road Trip Memories with Children

Trips with kids are certainly memorable! “Are we there yet?” “Daddy, I have to pee.” “Mom, she’s touching me!” Sound familiar? Continue reading »

May 022014
 

Graduation Layout GraphicWelcome to my stop on the Craft Squad’s Con-Graduation Blog Hop. If you’re coming from The Crafty Neighbor, you are in the right place.  If you want to start at the beginning, go to http://stampinginferno.blogspot.com/2014/05/congradulations-blog-hop.html.

Graduation is a big deal at our house. Our youngest is graduating on June 8th. Thrilled as we are that he’s been successful, my husband and I aren’t really looking forward to his absence.  With that in mind, I wanted to create a scrapbook layout that shows my mixed feelings. I also wanted to highlight the fact that the memory of him starting kindergarten doesn’t seem old and faded. In fact, in many ways it seems like yesterday. Continue reading »

Apr 072014
 
childhood Memories include main drag

Hometown memories might include cruising the main drag. Photo credit Library of Congress PPOC.

We usually define “home” as a building. It’s our childhood home, or grandma’s house, or another place where we felt safe to grow. However, our hometown memories also play an important role in our stories. Even if you moved frequently, chances are that the towns and cities of your past still have a special place in your heart.

As you look back, write about your hometown memories. The following are some ideas on how to capture the essence of the setting of your childhood stories.

What you used to think

Remember, you’re not so much telling the story of you hometown as telling your story of growing up in it. Your feelings about your hometown memories are an integral and important part of your story. Continue reading »

Feb 272014
 
Writing about your earliest memory as a toddler

Writing about your earliest memory can be entertaining and revealing.

Writing about your earliest memory can present a challenge. Often, they’re not coherent. You might only remember a room, a noise, or impressions. However, writing about your earliest memory or memories and explaining why they matter can provide a meaningful glimpse into your childhood.

It’s fun to compare something we all share

It’s fun to compare your own early memory with the earliest memories of loved ones. Most of our earliest memories date back to age three of four, though some people have even earlier memories. Continue reading »