Today I have guest blogger LAURA HEDGECOCK. She is the author of Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life
Prompt: Writing about Your Memories and Yourself
Caren often posts writing prompts, which are great for inspiring creativity and originality. They’re great. We should all keep honing our craft.
Sometimes, though, originality is over-rated—particularly among writers. We’re loathe to write or share about anything that’s just run-of-the-mill. This self-expectation of “fresh” and “original” can bully us into reticence when it comes to sharing our own lives.
Sure, if we feel our experiences are extraordinary enough, we’ll start penning a memoir. Alternatively, we’ll hit the highlights in blog posts. But, what about the mundane-lights? Aren’t we missing the boat by not sharing our everyday experiences with family and loved ones?
Personal Stories Connect Us with Loved Ones
Once I was in the barbershop with my boys. A familiar looking man came in, but we couldn’t place him. Finally, we figured out that he was our vet. When we saw him out of context—without a white coat and not covered in pet hair—we didn’t recognize him.
Our personal stories give our family and friends a wider context in which to know, love, and bond with us.
The Unremarkable is Often Remarkably Human
The stories of falling in and out of love, raising children, and caring and grieving for loved ones connect our readers to our common experiences.
This is especially true of family and loved ones. My maternal grandmother wrote throughout her life and passed down her memories and family stories. By many standards, her writing—and the events of her life—were unremarkable. Yet the episodes of her past have connected and grounded my family for thirty years now.
When I read about how she watched her children play and dreamed dreams for them, I bond with her. A woman, wife, and mother stand where only a grandmother stood before.
We Connect Best with People like Us
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to telling extraordinary stories. However, those shouldn’t be the only stories we tell.
Not every story should leave readers thinking, “Wow. I can’t imagine…” Especially when we write to connect with family and friends, some of our writing should leave them thinking, “That’s so true!”
We like people when we can relate to them. For instance, if I have a choice of inviting Martha Stewart or Anne Lamott to a party, I’m going to choose Anne Lamott. (I know, in my dreams!)But, Anne is a great case in point. The emotions she expressed in Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year are common to millions of women, yet eloquent. Reading her description of how she felt when she first laid eyes on her son was like reading my heart poured out on a page.
Our Personal Stories Contain a Piece of Ourselves
We’re human. We cry, catastrophize, loose our tempers and occasionally go off the deep end. Especially when we write about our personal memories, it’s fine to admit that we’ve had a couple of bad moments.
We appreciate blue skies more when they follow storms. If our loved ones don’t know the depth to which the barometer fell or how muddy the puddles were, they won’t know how much to appreciate it when we grace them with sunshine.
Although in my book, Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life, I talk about revealing your more vulnerable side in your writing, I didn’t fully realize the power of doing so.
It was during the beta-reading process that I learned the power of personal stories. After reading my personal stories peppered throughout the book, two different beta readers responded that they felt such a bond with me that felt like we needed to be friends.
Share your memories and stories—original or not. Brushes with death, climbing trees, or squabbles with siblings are all fair game.
LAURA HEDGECOCK is the author of Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life. Learn more about Laura and sharing memories atTreasureChestofMemories.com. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two teenage sons, (and her Springer Spaniel), playing soccer, nature photography, and finding her roots—which might explain her messy house.