I have become distracted. Somewhere along the way my original purpose for writing this blog lost its way and, instead of writing about writing, I’ve used this space for sharing some of my writing projects, such as memoir writing and social history. But hopefully I’ve remained faithful to the whole idea of writing stories – my stories, your stories, the stories so many of us like to read because we can relate to them.
This morning I attended a two hour creative non-fiction writing workshop, the writing I spend about half of my writing life doing. This was the first writing workshop I’ve attended for a few years. I came away with more than I expected.
A writing workshop ideally offers us opportunities to write, to put into practice what we’re focused on. Yes, I came home with a piece of new writing developed at this morning’s workshop. But I came home with even more.
Perhaps even more stimulating was the contact with other writers, all writing different stories, all having something valid to say, most of whom I’d never met before. I enjoyed being exposed to different styles of writing and discussing them. I also listened to how each writer faced challenges in their writing lives.
Writing tends to be an isolated task. A writing workshop brings us into contact with other writers. For me this was more powerful than the piece of writing I produced.
If you have the opportunity to be part of such a session, grab it. There’s something quite powerful about thinking about and talking about writing, while producing the start of a new piece of work and receiving feedback.
Have you had similar experiences?
Image courtesy of https://pixabay.com/
I’m sure many of your parents, like mine, told you that no good comes of listening to conversations not meant for your ears. But when you’re a bored teenager sometimes listening to an adult conversation can be quite revealing. How else were we to learn about life?
On one occasion my parents’ saying proved to be wrong and what I heard became a turning point in my life. The conversation unfolded between my father and a woman who often visited us, the very woman written about yesterday with the silver grey hair and the pink volkswagen car.
Said woman disapproved of the freedom I was given since I had started competitive swimming. She’d apparently seen me biking home from training with some boys.
‘You give that girl too much freedom,’ she said. ‘She’ll end up getting herself into trouble.’
Now I was at an age where girls getting into trouble meant only one thing, they found themselves pregnant. I was about to burst through the door in protest, but my father’s reply stopped me. His answer was simple.
‘We trust her,’ he said.
They were such powerful words and even though he never said as much to me personally he didn’t need to. His trust always came to mind when I found myself getting involved in teenage shenanigans.
So, conversations listened on through closed doors are not always a bad thing.
Apparently yesterday, Sunday 2 April, was middle child day. Living in the southern hemisphere as I do, I’ve only just found out about this. We’re already more than half way through Monday as I write.
However, the whole concept of middle child fascinates me for two reasons, the most obvious one being that I am a middle child. I’ve read so many things about the negative side of being a middle child, especially of feeling left out, but that hasn’t been my case at all. I loved being a middle child. The family position proved very advantageous to me.
You see, while the other two were being doted on by our parents, as middle child I was left to be independent and free. There were plenty of times, especially during my teenage years, when I was grateful for my parents not really knowing what I was up to. And then, if I wanted to curl up with a book on my own, no one actually noticed.
The other reason I was interested to learn about middle child day is related to one of my current writing projects. I’m exploring what life was like for me in the 1950s and 1960s through the eyes of a middle child. The revisiting old memories is proving lots of fun.
So, to all middle children out there, I hope you had a happy day. I’d love to hear about your middle child experiences and whether it was a positive or not-so-positive experience for you.
Quite often people think they don’t remember much about their past, but that could be because they are out of practice. In my experience, the more I write my stories down, the more twice as many memories come flooding in.
If you think about it, memory prompts are everywhere. No matter what you do, or where you go, it’s likely you did something in your childhood or younger life, or maybe a family member did something, similar to what is happening now.
Take this afternoon for example. I’ve just been watching the women finishing in the World triathlon Series race here in New Zealand. This not only made me remember my days as a young competitive swimmer, but also in adulthood as a Masters Swimmer. Then there are the memories of women’s triathlons and fun run and walk events I’ve participated in.
If you really want to write your life stories but don’t know where to start, I recommend you start looking at the things around you. Then, consider whether anything similar happened in your own life. Open your mind to memory prompts and start writing your stories.
Myself and two friends, after our first team triathlon effort, about ten years ago.
So many people tell me there life is not worth recording, they’ve never done anything interesting that others may want to read. Of course, I tell them that is absolute nonsense. No one else knows our life as we do. What seems ordinary to us seems fascinating to others. That is why it is important to get your stories written down.
As I go about my research for my latest writing project I’m grateful that people in the past have recorded their everyday stories, so that every day details are not lost. In the future someone may be grateful to you for writing your stories down. Even the smallest details may prove to be informative or interesting to someone in the years to come.
Why not start writing down your stories today?
I’m having a quiet afternoon, much quieter than the one we had here in the lower part of the North Island, New Zealand yesterday. About this time yesterday we were hit by a magnitude 6.2 eathquake, that really rocked our socks off.
Not knowing what was going to happen and needing to share my shaking with someone other than my husband, I wrote about it at this link – I’m not sure if we were having an after shock or whether it was just me shaking.
Fortunately we weren’t close to the centre, and judging by news coming in during the day some places had even more damage than we did here. The local paper shows pictures of chimney damage to the house next door to the one I grew up in the 1950s.
Our cat Smooch wasn’t too impressed with the noisy shake, he bolted like lightning out the window once the shaking stopped.
I managed to find something to laugh about after the earthquake stopped though. My cup of coffee had emptied itself, leaving me with the need to clean up before making another.
Today the afternoon is quiet. I’m thankful for that. Do you have earthquakes in your part of the world?
There’s something about growing older, life tends to float by at a more even pace. Not that I haven’t been busy so far this year, but maybe I’ve finally found some balance.
New Year came in with huge bangs in Taupo, where we were minding my sister’s house and dog. The fireworks terrified the poor fellow. However, he settled down and we continued our week with him amidst lots of fun and laughter.
Here’s Busta pleading, please take me for a walk Aunty Val. We didn’t dare mention that word, w-a-l-k aloud, unless we were ready to put our words into action!
One of the things I want to do more of this year is write the stories of our pets. After all, their stories deserve to be told just as much as the rest of the family. I know our cat Smooch will agree with that!
The stories of pets and humans are entwined together don’t you think.