September 12
by Maria Boling

There is no such thing as a normal life. If you have ever daydreamed by an open window, skimmed a pebble across a still lake, or stood in the silent world of snow, then you have a story to tell.

Writing life story memories can be a lot of fun, especially if you try to remember the moments not the years. Even age, whether a teenager or an adult, does not matter when you are ready for this incredible journey. Today will be tomorrow’s remembrance and once these current events have past they will only be in your memory unless you write them down. Some of your seasoned thoughts and musings have long been stuffed back and stored in the crevices of your mind. They can be activated with five simple steps:

1) Review picture albums and other family keepsakes. This is a great source of information. If you do not have any or they are not handy then ask your relatives or friends for copies that included you. Look in your family Bible for old legal documents. Sometimes forgotten letters and postcards were placed there as bookmarks. Your local library may carry old newspapers on microfiche or films that are crammed with events and advertisements. Listen to the music, taste the foods, smell the colognes and spices of the time period about which you are writing. These should trigger your memory. Don’t forget to use color and be specific. Do not say tree, say “a golden hickory tree.” Tape old photographs, pictures and magazine ads to the wall in front of your writing space. There. There is your story. Look at it. Remember it. Now write it.
2) Talk to relatives and friends who may have a better memory than you about special events, births and deaths. Write about your odd ball kin. We all have them. Write about your wonderful Uncle Joe, but tell of his faults too. Characters, whether fictional or true, are not believable unless they have imperfections. It’s the nuts in the fudge that make it interesting. Same with families. Use a tape recorder if you are interviewing. Some people are intimidated by a microphone and you must ask permission. Keep detailed notes in case they change their mind.
3) Use memory joggers. Write about your heirlooms, extraordinary furniture, jewelry, peculiar family sayings or recipes. Begin with “I remember . . .” and try to write as long as you can using stream of consciousness or free writing. If you get stuck start again with “I remember.” Clustering is also a big help. Place a key word in the center of your page, circle it. Now spiral out from that word every thought that comes into your mind. Example: The word “doors” might conjure up open, yawning cabinet doors, then maybe garage doors, and garage could remind you of a car, and car brings to mind street, then the word concrete. Did you think of doors that cannot be opened? Jobs or situations that are no longer obtainable? Concrete doors? There is where you start.
4) Be frank, conscientious and compassionate. If you carry these traits into your writing it may be worthy of publication. A person who writes with the intention of hurting others will never succeed. Good folks can write about evil. Evil persons have no idea what good is and therefore are unable to write of its merits. We have a tendency to beef up our lives, hidden past and accomplishments. But don’t forget we all can be foolish, even silly and irrational. Play with your writing and have fun. Just don’t forget the all important humor. Have a person review your work whom you trust and who is knowledgeable in the writing field and who also has a sense of humor. This memoir writing is more than what you remember, it is also the funny accounts and pranks you can’t forget.
5) Ease into the big stories. Catastrophes are painful to write about. This is natural, therefore you might try this suggestion: If there was a tragic event in your life, write first about the little details, the ugly wallpaper in the hospital waiting room, the taste of vending machine coffee at the police station, the stench of a fires aftermath, the worn hole in the judge’s robe. Then ease into the real reason you were at the hospital, police station, fire or court room.

Remember an unused memory fades. Wise old Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Examine yours. Your incidents have been well lived. You, unlike Adam and Eve, have a past. Your story already has a plot and you are the protagonist. If your story remains untold it will fade and there will be no written legacy for your future generations. So go ahead. Start today and begin your written sentimental journey.
Read about Maria on the Writer’s Bios Page