Monday, February 18, 2013

Here's a piece of a recent post by Kari Dell, one of the Fabulosity:

Since joining the board of directors at our local historical museum, my views on memoirs, family histories and even diaries have changed tremendously. I'd always thought of these things in one of two ways: either you had to live a big, important life to be worth writing about (aka, selling) or it only mattered to your family. Now I've seen how these personal accounts of a normal life can be a treasure trove for historians.

Rather than blathering on, I'm going to refer you to one of the masters, William Zinsser, whose book On Writing Well is considered a touchstone for non-fiction writers. This article from The American Scholar is a wonderful read:  How to Write a Memoir

From that article I condensed this nugget, a bit of advice any writer in any genre should heed:

"When you write...don't try to be a writer....Be yourself and your readers will follow you anywhere. Try to commit an act of writing and your readers will jump overboard to get away."

So write your story, large or small. You never know what value they will hold for those to come.
could not have said it better myself (which is of course why Kari is the writer, and I am the ...not)


french sojourn said...

Sounds like a great flash fiction contest idea, hint, hint

BP said...

Wow. Beautiful. Letting go is often the hardest part for the self-conscious, under-confident writer type. Perhaps that is why our best writing stems out of tragedies; then we are not trying to write well or to hide ourselves - the raw emotions come out unabated and we are left with nothing but our humanity on paper.

Terri Lynn Coop said...

A few years ago my husband called me and said, "I'm standing in the dumpster behind the Baptist church. Is Boy Scout stuff any good?" (Yes, I got those calls often, why do you ask?)

I rushed down there and discovered that the church had cleaned its basement and loaded up the dumpster. Along with all the Boy Scout stuff (and yes, it is good, I sold one patch for $125), I found a little gem.

In the 1930s, a church mission group had done a European tour. In a small black notebook was a hand-written diary of the trip, including watching the famed Passion Play in Germany. It was an amazing read. I sold it (because that is what I do) to a collector who will make sure it is shared and kept safe.

It is the little stories that make up our culture and collective consciousness. I am always encouraging people to get their elderly relatives to tell their stories.


Vanessa Shields said...

Natalie Goldberg's 'Old Friend From Far Away' is a great companion piece to Zinsser's. I used both when writing my memoir...and when I teach a memoir class.
Certainly, EVERYONE has amazing stories to tell about their life. It's about searching for, finding and getting them on the page.