Jul 222014
 
Writing about bullies of childhood

Writing about bullies is a way to open up your past to your readers.

Writing about bullies doesn’t come easily. We want to put that behind us. We wonder, “Who wants to read that?”

Probably most people.

Whenever we get together and share memories and stories, encounters with belligerence, arrogance, or outright bullying invariably come up. It’s always a compelling story.

Our listeners commiserate. They respond with their own stories. This happens when we write too. When we write about bullies and persecutors, we connect with readers and start conversations. We see new facets of each other’s personality. Continue reading »

Jul 152014
 
A typical day in your life

Describing a typical day can deepen connections.

Your story does not have to be extraordinary to be worthy of the written word. In fact, memorializing a typical day can be the key to connecting with loved ones.

I remember my younger son’s fourth grade teacher pulling me aside to describe my son’s “spacy” behavior. “Welcome to my world,” I told her. Although I sympathized with her, a part of me was grateful for someone who understood—viscerally understood—life with my son.

We hear “Walk a mile in my shoes!” with good reason. Experiencing the dust around another’s feet and the rhythms of their daily life promotes understanding and empathy. Continue reading »

Jun 302014
 

Various Roots Roots by Another Mother…

When we think of roots, we think of family trees. If we’re from a loving, supportive family, we think of those roots supplying stability and nourishment. If we’re from an atypical—or even dysfunctional—family, we think of them as hidden, dirty, cavorting with worms and grubs.

Those roots are great to write about. But, we have other roots. Some of them have nothing to do with family. Bear with me as I beat the metaphor a little longer. Continue reading »

Jun 262014
 
Steelers Sports Traditions

Steelers sports traditions are so strong in our family that we’ve added something to our family crest.

Many families have traditions that center not around the dining room table, but rather the television set. Other families have built their sports traditions around a particular section of the local ballpark or stadium. It’s easy to look over such sports traditions when we’re documenting family stories. However, sports traditions are often imbued with deep emotional connections.

Team Traditions

Even though we live in the Detroit area, my kids grew up watching the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is a continuation of my husband’s childhood traditions. In his family, fall Sunday afternoons meant tuna fish sandwiches, a Steelers game, and a nap. I vetoed the tuna fish part, but we continue the rest. Although not together physically, my husband, his parents, and his siblings’ continue to root for what used to be the home-team together. Continue reading »

Jun 242014
 
What you were doing was right street sign

Those times when you knew what you were doing was right make great stories!

Have you ever had moments of extreme confidence—times in which you knew that what you were doing was right? As a person who, on her best days, still lacks confidence, such occasions of complete certainty have been relatively rare. On the other hand, the scarcity of those times makes them doubly precious.

The circumstances of knowing what you were doing was right make for great stories to share and pass down. They can give your readers great insight into your personality. 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 »

Jun 052014
 
Things you might not know about me

One of the things you might now know about me is that I love being a soccer mom.

I’m preparing an informal workshop for my launch party tomorrow. It’s a fun version of “Things you might not know about me.” It belatedly occurred to me that it might make a good blog post.

Things that Everyone Should Know About Me

I’m not much of a mystery woman. I wear my heart on my sleeve. But, because I tend to start my paragraphs in the middle—even in conversations—it would be helpful for people to know so basic things about me.

I’m a writer, nature freak, dog freak, and talker—wait, did you want to get a word in edgewise? A reader. A friend—good friend to most, I think. I’m distractible—probably even diagnosably ADHD and so is the rest of my family. I love to laugh and often forget myself and laugh to loud. If something’s really funny, I snort. So don’t say anything really funny to me in front of my boys. They’re find my propensity to snort embarrassing.

On a more serious note, I have a strong faith, though I do wonder about this whole system of being left behind when someone dies. I love my family, especially when they’re kooky or dorky.

My faults are pretty obvious. I worry too much. I have self-esteem issues. My house is a wreck.

Things You Might not Know about Me

Of course, I’ll lead my workshop attendees through a somewhat logical progression of things that others might now know about them. Here’s a random romp through some things about me that seem important today:

My sister is the only family member I have on my dad’s side of the family. That’s important because she’s on her way up from South Carolina to be here for my book launch party tomorrow. I’m glad she wants to come, because I really need her to be here.

THings you might not know about me: Friends

Some of my friends are more like family

Some of my friends count as family. I wish the English language had words for that.

I hate contentiousness. I’m happy to agree to disagree, but I don’t want to argue. Unless you’re my kid, in which case I’ll argue, and then get mad at you for causing me to lose my temper.

Things I Don’t Really Admit to Myself

This is the most challenging approach to “Things you might not know about me.” It’s a level of sharing that worth thinking about. Not only is it therapeutic to have an introspective look at yourself. When you share these “secrets,” you connect.

Me? I like research. I can be obsessive. I’m smarter than I act. Despite the fact that I’m a writer, I’m bad at sending cards.

 Your Turn:

What should others know about you? Try your own version of “Things you might not know about me…”

May 292014
 

Lives of World War I Injuries Historians at London’s Imperial War Museum (IWM) are trying to preserve the stories of 8 million people. That’s how many World War I stories they estimate are in danger of being lost to “living” memory. And, that’s only counting those who served the British Commonwealth.

The “Great War” began on June 28, 1914. We’ve lost the lives of World War I–the veterans, survivors, nurses, and doctors of that war. In addition, the next generation—the children that knew their stories, are also aging. These stories are in danger of being lost to history. Continue reading »

May 152014
 
Story of my hero.

My hero jumped into the fray without a thought for her own safety. Image credit: Krzysztof Szkurlatowski

I probably owe my life to a woman in Gates, New York. I wish I’d thought to get her name.

We all have heroes in our past. Maybe it was someone who put you on the right path. Perhaps it was someone who literally saved you from a burning building. Alternatively, it could simply be someone who stood up for you at a time when it made all the difference.

Stories of heroes make great reading—as do the stories of needing rescue. Writing and sharing these stories accomplish a triple purpose. You can process the event of your past as you reveal a “road not taken” incident in your life. It also allows your readers to connect with the person that was there for you when it mattered. Continue reading »

May 012014
 
Questions for Ancestors Field Clark

If I could just get that interview, I ‘d have questions for ancestors

In my family tree, there are huge gaping holes in our family stories. I have so many questions for ancestors. If I could go back in time with a little voice recorder, there are quite a few of my ancestors I would want to  interview. I’d also have a few questions for my husband’s ancestors—after all, they, too, are my children’s progenitors.

Note: Keep in mind; stories don’t have to have happily-ever-after endings. Your questions for ancestors could lead to great stories about them!

Van Field Clark: “Are all Grandma’s war stories true?”

Van Field Clark was “Grandpa Clark” to my grandmother. As she collected her memories, she wrote down some of his Civil War stories, none of which I have been able to substantiate. Not only would I want to know if the stories are true, I would want to hear them first hand. Continue reading »