"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, May 24, 2011

Writing the Memoir

I recently read Ann Best's memoir In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets. I just added it to my Shelfari shelf of memoir-type books I have read.

What makes a good memoir? First, the cover. This is a wonderful cover because you can stare at it at length wondering about the people before you even crack open the book. Then while you're reading, you can flip back to it and recall how Ann and Larry looked on their wedding day.  And you can ponder this photo with their children and think about how things are not always as happy as it seems when a family gathers for a smiling group shot.

Which brings me to another important element of memoir-- story! There needs to be a beginning, middle and end; conflict; memorable, identifiable characters; resolution of conflict; real life situations that the reader can connect with; and don't forget-- good writing!!

There's the autobiography someone might write for family and posterity with particulars and photos from one's life. These have a place in personal and family history and kudos to anyone who is able to write one. And then there's the publishable memoir such as Ann wrote-- something that connects with a large demographic of readers who will pay for the privilege of reading her story. 

I like to think the genre is called "memoir" because it's "memorable." Not simply a collection of "memories" but a story that stays in your heart and mind long after. That's the kind of memoir that Ann Best wrote. Not an easy task. I hope on her blog that she will delve into what, why and how she managed to write her book.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What Motivates You?

This might seem like an easy question but it's not really. Because I have no idea half the time why I do what I do. Does anyone?

Like, what motivates me to sulk instead of speak? What on earth does sulking accomplish? Yet there I go, sulking again instead of communicating in a proper way.

What motivates a woman toward health and fitness? And another towards a lifetime of sedentary behavior while overdosing on candy and potato chips?

What makes someone a workaholic and someone else a call-in-sick-whenever-possible kind of guy?

Why do some people like cats and others prefer dogs?

Why does one man love going to church and another avoid it like the plague?

My mom used to say that I would stare at people and analyze them endlessly. (Like there's something wrong with that?) What is more fascinating in this whole wide world than people?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Interview with a Wanna be Genealogist

My husband is really really interested in genealogy and all aspects of family history. As he puts it: "A wanna-be family history pictures and archivist." Here's what he has to say-- (and thank you, darling husband, for the interview and photos and information on scanning)--

Technology today makes preserving records easier than ever. And easier to share original documents with anyone at no additional cost. The opportunity to look into the face of an ancestor in a photograph and realize that they are connected to you is remarkable.

With the advent of scanning technology this is made easier and more accessible. I take old photos and scan the entire photo, even if there's damage to it. I can also just scan the faces, which are the most important part of the individuals in our history. I like to see the settings that they're in, I like to think about what they may be doing the day that they posed for this picture.

I have a treasured photograph of one young couple recently married, right before he went off to fight in the Civil War and never came home.
That is Smith Banta and his wife, Mary Jane London, my great-great grandparents. They had two children. Later, she remarried and had eight more children.

Documents such as marriage licenses, birth certificates, wills, letters and anything that might give information about family members can also be scanned and emailed to those interested. Scanning is a simple and inexpensive process for photos and documents. No more running to the copy store, or even worse--loaning an original valued document and worrying that you might never get it back.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Quiet House

Two weeks ago we moved and right now, for the first time ever, the house is relatively still. Our two boys left early for a work project, and the phone guy was only here for long enough to fix the bad outlet (maybe 20 minutes). Our regular visitors are the phone and internet repairmen and technicians. I think they have the phone lines all working now. Internet is fine as long as I'm plugged in-- no wireless yet.

The dishwasher and washing machine are running but that's lovely white noise that means cleaning is happening while I'm busy elsewhere.

A major move like this is hectic, exhausting, expensive, and loud. Once all the activity dies down I can stop stressing and begin to think and get my groove back. So maybe this is the week. It's starting off well with a nice quiet house. I should be cleaning after the hectic weekend. But first I just want to relish the peaceful feeling of a quiet Monday. Ahhhh!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Happy Birthday to my Quiet Blog

It was a year ago that I began this blog as an experiment. Well, not exactly a year. My first post was actually on March 31. I wanted to see what would happen if I posted about subjects that interested me-- memoir, personal and family history, family, nature, and of course myself hehe-- without doing anything else to get followers or views. No tricks or gimmicks-- just plain ol' everyday writing on the blog.

It's been fun because it's no pressure blogging. I'm not really trying to do anything special or even have a platform--it's simply a forum for random posting. Because I'm a compulsive writer who will write anywhere, anytime on any subject. Ask my kids who have carried dozens of boxes of massive journals from house to house.

Happy birthday to my quiet blog. Many thanks to those who follow me here and take the time to read and comment on my posts. I appreciate it so much!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Walk into Heaven

Yesterday it was 78 and sunny. I thumbed my nose at broken Blogger and messed up internet at the new house and went for a long walk. There's a lake about 15 min. from my house so I headed there to explore what paths would take me where. I avoided the areas closest to the road and parking areas-- too much noise and activity-- and headed to the other side of the lake, which seemed almost like a wilderness area.

It was so still and empty of activity. I only passed two other walkers in an hour, but enjoyed the company of a couple of geese far out on the water. They came soaring in with their long necks and wide wing span, and in tandem they slid and skated along the water surface, barely making a ripple. Geese are annoying up close, especially if they've decided they own the area, but from a distance they are enchanting.

Up ahead, I saw a bench in the shade, just waiting for me. I sat and looked out over the lake and the mountains beyond. It was peaceful, solitary and beautiful. I felt like I was in heaven. Of course I wouldn't always want to be alone, either in this life or the next, but at that moment it was exactly what my heart craved. Solace. Beauty. Solitude.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Being Homeschooled

Homeschooling is a great option for educating one's children when the school system isn't doing its job. I have utilized homeschooling myself. Usually only for a short time and then back into the public schools they go. Sometimes people will homeshool for their children for the entire education. I'm not saying it is good or bad, but it's nice to have the option. But then there's that question that comes when people are talking about someone with no social skills-- "Were they homeschooled?"

(I apologize in advance to anyone who might be offended by this post.)