"Have you thought about writing your family history, but found yourself stuck from the start? Writing a family narrative can be a daunting task, but Karen Jones Gowen found a way to bring her mother's story to life." (Homespun Magazine)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Lady in the Audience

I did a presentation and signing a few months ago. The women in this audience were from rural areas and identified strongly with Farm Girl. At the end, one lady sat there longer than all the rest, and with tears in her eyes she said, "I thought I would have more time to get my mother's story written. She died last year. She was only 72."

Since then, I have thought many times of this lady. And many others who have read Farm Girl and related similar sentiments:

"I have pages of my life story written, but I don't know how to organize them."

"We can't get my folks to talk into a tape player."

"Oh how I wish I could do what you did. But I'm not a writer."

"I don't even know where to start."

"My dad traveled all over the West. He was a cowhand. He told me stories of his life, but I've never written them down."

"You wouldn't believe my life. It would make a great book, if I could only get it written."

Common thread-- "I wish I had started sooner." But there is no sooner. There is only today. And tomorrow. Are you ready to begin?


  1. Hi

    Oh it's so important to preserve such memories - definitely write or tape yourself if you don't want to write - or just keep mementos to pass on!

    I'm loving this blog!

    Take care

  2. Kitty, that's it in a nutshell. Because my grandmother & mother cared enough to preserve the photos and memories/stories, in both written and oral form, I had the material I needed to bring it all together. Thanks for following me over here!

  3. I would love to start now. I even have a title for the story of my Grandmother's life. It was so fun and interesting but I've got too many stories in the fire. Guess I'll work on the ones under contract! LOL

  4. Hi Karen. Made it over here! And you know what, looking around, I think I will be very comfy. :)

    I made a cassette tape when I was about 11, interviewing my dad. It wasn't a serious interview, or even a very long one, but a year later when he suddenly died it became the most precious thing to me, and still is.

    It's sad to grow up with family tales that go silent when the person that brought them to life is no longer around. Recording memories is so very important, and a good place to start if you want to become a writer, I think.

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  6. I am very familiar with most of the excuses above. I called myself to order about four years ago and started a family history. The stories I grew up on. There is some truth to most of them, but as a family of storytellers they might have had arms and legs added over time. But I feel it is important to record these stories, as the old storytelling ways of Ireland seem to be dying out. Love this blog Karen.

  7. Ann, you must feel very strongly about this as you repeated yourself 3 times :) I remember one of the posts on your blog about a place where you lived as a child. Yes, I still remember it. Props for you for continuing your Irish seanchai tradition.

    Jayne, great story about your dad. Wow! What a wonderful treasure that tape would be!

  8. This site is such a great idea. Once a month my family goes to my husband's grandmother's house on a Monday night. She tells us stories or traditions from her life and we record them. My children love to hear about their great-grandmother's life.

    For Christmas one year, my parents each typed up their history and gave it to their children. It was fascinating to see where many of our traditions and attitudes began. My oldest daughter loves reading them.

    My current WIP is based on a story from my great-grandmother's life with a modern twist.


I don't post very often, but if you leave a comment I'll know someone is out there reading. And then I will post more! Bwa ha ha!