Writing Your Story – Which Events do you Remember?

I finished the 3rd draft of my storybook a few days ago.   Hooray!  I rushed to Staples to have copies printed for my friends and family reviewers.  It was exciting right up until the point when I got the bill.  Let’s just say that when you have a ~72K word book that ~$.011-$0.22/page can really add up.

Nevertheless, as I handed copies to friends this morning, I received many compliments for my efforts.  My book may not be any good, but just about everyone admired my initiative to write my family’s history.  We all have memories that we’d like to document for future generations.  Some are complex, others are short and precious.

One person told me the story of her grandmother who had left a babysitting job to sneak a peak at a funeral for a 4-year old boy who had drowned in a lake.  The grandmother, a young girl at the time, had never seen a dead body before, and wanted to view the boy before he was buried.  A friend from college told me that her older brother and parents connived to point out the Easter Bunny to her in the back yard.  She strained to see the visitor, until her father said that the bunny had jumped over the fence to the neighbor’s yard.

Which stories do we remember?  Likely, we remember events that were important to us, unusual, or made us laugh.  I started my book by creating a bullet list of the stories that I wanted to write.  In my case, I actually wrote the stories.  I look back on my early drafts, however, and realize that I didn’t do much other than put the story itself into words.  I failed to document a back story, description, timeline, or even a geographical location.  I added those details over time in the revision process.

My suggestion to my friends was to try a similar approach – make a list of the stories that are important to you.  Once you have the list, then you can take some time to fill in the details about one particular story at a time.  Maybe you stick a microphone in the face of a loved one, and say “tell me about that time when….”  IMHO, it’s a lot easier to work on one story at a time, and writing even one story, or capturing a special moment in an audio recording is a lot better than nothing.  We all have to start somewhere.

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