Sunday, March 28, 2010

WRITING HISTORY

A friend of mine, Mary Larmoyeux, wrote in her blog, The Grand Connection, about hearing a holocaust survivor speak about her experiences in a concentration camp. This presentation challenged Mary to write about events that she personally experienced, events that her grandchildren would only read about. 

She  quoted John W. Gardner who said, "History never looks like history when you are living through it," then asked how we, her readers, are capturing the stories of historical events that we've lived through. To read the full article, go to this link:
http://grandconnection.blogspot.com/2010/03/remembering-so-they-will-never-forget.html

Mary's question challenged me and I made a list of historical events of which I've had a personal connection, such as:

  • Kennedy assassination
  • Neil Armstrong walks on the moon
  • Vietnam
  • Fall of Berlin Wall
  • Space shuttle Challenger disaster
  • The beginning of the Internet
  • Oklahoma City bombing
  • 911
  • The fall of Sadaam Hussein
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • The election of our first bi-racial president




I'm writing my memories of these events and how they have affected my life. In my creative nonfiction workshops, I always stress, "You tell your stories. Don't let the 'talking heads' do it!"
Sometime soon, make a list of the historical events you've experienced—even though they don't seem like history—and write about them from a personal point of view. 
Your grandchildren, and future generations will thank you! 


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

GETTING A LATE START?

I began writing in high school in a creative writing elective coarse. A spark ignited in me, but life quickly extinguished it when I married in the first year of college. After a divorce, remarriage, five children who grew into five teenagers (yikes!), our house burning down, and the near death of our youngest son and his health issues after that, who had time to write?

Then a dear friend, Lois Spoon, introduced me to the Northwest Arkansas Writers critique group. My writer spark reignited into a flame. I wrote and wrote until I finally found my voice. There was only one problem that I grappled with to the point that it held me back—regret.

I regretted all the time lost when I could have been writing. It seemed that every writer I met and every successful author I listened to at conferences exited the womb with a silver pen in their hand. They all wrote as little children. Who was I, an old woman of forty something, to think she could start writing and have any success or impact at all?

Now at the age of fifty four, I'll tell you who. I'm a woman with stories to tell, experiences to share, and hope to give. My second book, Connect! A Simple Guide to Public Speaking for Writers, will be available soon and I just sold my eleventh story to Chicken Soup for the Soul. I'm also enjoying another unexpected benefit, speaking to writers' groups and conferences.

If you are struggling with regret for starting late—don't! Just think of the past years as research, and get on with the business of writing!

You have stories begging to be told!