In the evening of August 4, 1689, the night of the Lachine massacre, a violent rainstorm hovered above the Saint Lawrence and the Island of Montréal. Lightning flashed repeatedly across the sky and deafening thunder resounded above the seventy-seven houses of the community of Lachine. As the Canadiens slept in their isolated farms, fifteen hundred […]
Tag Archives | family stories
Interviewing family members and friends is clearly a form of research, but interviews alone are usually not enough to give your stories the depth they require. For that, you need formal research.
Gathering stories at family events—interviewing—is one of these basic steps you can master for writing your memoir. Following these basic steps, anyone can succeed at writing interesting and meaningful memoirs.
As a memoirist, you must always double check the information you already have, and seek new material to flesh out your stories. Reunions, weddings, funerals, birthday and holiday celebrations rate well on both of these tasks: scattered relatives, each of whom has a piece of the family history to share, are in one place at one time. Gathering stories at family events is an opportunity not to be missed. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]
How do you write about family stories whose interpretation you don’t agree with?
We all have family stories that we have heard over and over again. When they are told in family gatherings, no one expects any contradiction. After all, the stories are the accepted “truth” about someone in the family. The problem is that you don’t agree with the meaning people ascribe to it.
How do you write about these family stories you don’t agree with? There’s no problem when you are in agreement with the storyline and the interpretation, but what do you do when you are not—especially what do you do when you are out of sync with other relatives in the way you interpret the story?
There is a rich lode of stories that you can tap into quickly both for their historical content and for what they tell you about how members of your family wanted their young to be. These are “family stories.” [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]
This post was sent to us with the wish that it remain anonymous. We are reprinting it with that wish intact. It is going under the byline of our staff but the writer is not on our staff. That was just the most expedient way to publish this.
I come back to my writing every day because I cannot stay away. It is how I process life. Writing helps me understand what has happened and how I feel about it. My dad’s Norwegian stoicism and our family’s isolation caused by his alcoholism prevented much communication with anybody, in or out of the family. I turned to writing to “talk” to someone. I wrote letters to any relatives and pen pals who would write back, and who I felt were my friends.
As I now write my memoirs, every memory I write about teaches me something new about myself and how I’ve become the person I am. When I started my memoir, I began to forgive myself for self-defeating behaviors I could not overcome. Re-living events buried for years has brought tears, but it has helped me let go and be a less fearful, ashamed and workaholic person. Writing is the best thing I do for myself.
Editor’s note: We came across this guest article published by Justine Kuntz back in 2013, and were so taken with her story of retiring to memoir writing that we decided to publish it again. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did, and that it inspires reflections on your own life and memoir.
Eight years ago as a retirement project for church, I introduced memoir writing at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Boca Raton, FL. Earlier, after twenty-two years of teaching English, I chose to flee the regimen of teaching and accepted a position in the business world. The new position required learning more about computers than what I had used in the classroom but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise when I fully retired nine years later. While in business, I had missed teaching, so developing a curriculum for memoir writing made me feel at home once again and helped ease me into retirement and doing what I loved most—teaching.
My second pregnancy was also easy enough. This time Albert was with me, and he and I could live it together. My mother had had most of her babies at home, but by the mid-1940s, women were…
Martha Blowen, my partner in life and in work, died on August 18, 2008, from metastasized breast cancer. The following is from collated excerpts of journals we both kept at the time. (Before she passed away, she gave me permission to share her entries.) The memoir is called My Eye Fell Into the Soup, after […]
The following is excerpted from the memoir My Eye Fell Into the Soup. Additional excerpts will follow on Saturdays. Martha began writing a journal before I knew her, and she wrote consistently for the 31 years we were together. My own habit of writing a record of my life began in my early twenties—in 1970. […]