Saturday, August 9, 2008

Life Story Writing: A Matter of Time

I was reading through some old posts I had written and came across the following article from June 2005. I've since added it to the Writers Circle at Memoirs By: Me. It gives you some insight as to why I started writing my own memoirs and what led me to start a website geared towards Life Story Writing.

A Matter of Time
By: Carrie Wigal
Copyright 2005 by Carrie Wigal.

Why haven't you started your memoirs yet?

In a recent poll at Memoirs By: Me the number one answer for not doing so was "time". That doesn't really surprise me. After all, there seems to always be places to go, people to see, and things to do. How can we possibly add one more thing to our plate. I understand, I'm in the same boat myself.

What prompted me to start my memoirs was the desire to write. I enjoy writing. I know not everyone does, but I do. I had always wanted to write a book. So several years ago I set out to accomplish that task...attempting fiction first. That was a flop...I couldn't seem to tell a story without sounding so fake. So then I got the brilliant idea of writing fiction based on my life. That went better but still I didn't enjoy it stories always seemed so cold. Then, I started thinking why must I limit myself to fiction, why not write fact? So that's what started me down my memoir lane.

What prompted me to start Memoirs By: Me is a whole other story.

Aunt Doris. She was the oldest of three and the only in her family who never married nor had children. But, she would tell stories about her family growing up. I especially loved to hear the ones that specifically included me, naturally. She had also done some research on her parents' ancestry, but I wasn't "into that" at the time. Now I wish I was.

A little over three years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it was in the latter stages. She began chemotherapy treatment right away. That summer I made a point to come back east to spend more time with her (I was living in Oklahoma at the time). I saw her on just a few occasions and since the chemo was really hard on her (as I'm sure it is with all who undergo such extreme treatment), our visits were kept short and low-key. When the summer ended, I went back home with every intention of calling her to "interview" her to have her tell me those stories again...this time I wanted to record them.

But I didn't. Do you know why? Time. I didn't have the time. I had just started a new job, my son had gone back to school, I joined the Cub Scouts acting as a den mother to a group of first graders, and my house was going through major renovations. I was lucky to get dinner on the table and produce clean laundry each week, let alone have time to make long distance phone calls.

Then it happened...I received a call from my mother saying my Aunt Doris was fading fast. My first thought was "I have to come out there," but my mother said she wouldn't recognize me if I did. What? I knew she was weak and sick most of the time, but wouldn't recognize me? Then, it hit me...the stories...all those stories I wanted to capture from her life. They were all gone. She was still with us, but her memory was stripped away. How would her life be remembered?

She died shortly thereafter. All I have are a few mementos from her (letters and cards I kept over the years), but that's it. I can't remember all the stories she told, and now they're lost. Oh, how I cried. And still do on occasion. I loved her. I miss her.

It's all a matter of time. We can use it as an excuse to not start our memoirs...or we can use it as a reason to start. This was my reason to start my mission: telling you that your memories matter. Capture them now, while you can. I'll help you in any way I can. Don't let "time" be your excuse...let it be your reason to start. Go ahead and call your Aunt Doris or Sue-Sue or Donna (or whatever her name is) and strike up a conversation, revel in the past awhile, and then write it down. You'll be glad you did.

Carrie Wigal, founder and editor of resides in Central Virginia with her husband and four children. She's dedicated to delivering the message that everyone has a story to tell, and she's helping tell them. Visit to learn how easily you can tell your real life stories today.
Permission is given to reproduce the above article provided the byline/copyright information, article content and author's resource box is kept unchanged.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My Mother's House: A Memoir

At age 12 Alexa Wolf won first place for her age group in a poetry contest sponsored by the International Women's League for Peace and Freedom. Ten years later she won a fellowship to the MacDowell Colony. She is currently working on her Writers Certificate at the UCLA Writers Extension Program.

After eight years spent writing My Mother's House: A Memoir, Alexa's book was published! I'm happy to showcase it in our Readers Circle for you to read. The following is an excerpt from the book:

My Mother's House: A Memoir
By Alexa Wolf
Copyright 2007 by Alexa Wolf.

The Night It Rained

I think of the times my mother might have died and didn't: when she dropped unbatlike from the steel bar across the top of her bedroom door and hit her shoulder on the floor; when the neighbor caught her as she lost her balance on the small dirt path to her walkway, halting her backward fall toward the sidewalk cement; when the drive-by shooting missed her; when she escaped the couple who wanted her to get into their truck; when her car broke down, as it seemed to do every other month and always at night, and countless, kind people stopped to help her and make sure she got home safely.

Then there was the night it rained. At a familiar intersection on her way home, Mother made a right turn and the steering wheel stuck. "The wheels only turned right!" she narrated to me on the phone the moment she got home. "The car just went around and around in the middle of the intersection - and the rain was pouring - the night was just black - for almost ten minutes."

"What did you do?" My mouth dry, I pictured the surrealistic scene she described. This was exactly the kind of thing I feared for her.


After reading this story, please share your thoughts and comments with the author and fellow MBM members below.

Would you like to learn more about Alexa and her mom? Consider purchasing My Mother's House: A Memoir for yourself.

How about sharing a story from your life depicting the relationship between you and your mother? I'd love the opportunity to share it with the MBM community here and discussing it with you. Submitting your life stories for online publication is easy...and free. Try'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Life Story Writing for Seniors

Kathleen Adams from The Center for Journal Therapy shares some great activities for Senior Citizens in her article, Life Story Writing for Seniors.

A few of these activities include:
  1. Writing in small sketches as proposed by Lois Daniel in her book, "How to Write Your Own Life Story",
  2. Maintaining correspondence with loved ones
  3. Dictating spoken poems
She explains,
"One of the markers of a life well lived must surely be the stories, experiences and memories that are told, retold, remembered and re-experienced throughout the life span. Life story writing captures the priceless and the poignant, the truly memorable and the quirkily remembered, the historic and the unique. It leaves a legacy of living history for future generations. And it can bring enjoyment, satisfaction and closure in the last stage of life."
She concludes her article with Six Suggestions for Seniors when it comes to Life Story Writing; practical no-nonsense ways to get one's life story recorded for generations to come. Read more about these now in Life Story Writing for Seniors.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Are Home Movies a Thing of the Past?

Making Personal Home Videos is an excellent way to capture and share your life story!

While there are countless video production services available to help you create a professional "life history" documentary of sorts, you can also do this yourself.

See how easy it is to create your own Life History Video.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The First Moment of...The Sixties

Joseph Duffy, a veteran of the VietNam War, husband and father and health care worker shares a story from his youth featuring his recollection of an historical turning point in our nation's history.

The First Moment of...The Sixties
By: Joseph Duffy
© 2008 by Joseph Duffy.

I was sure when The Fifties would come to an end. They would end on December 31, 1959, at the stroke of midnight. I was a young boy of eleven at that moment, and my twin brother Jim and I were helping my Mom baby-sit for my sister Betty, who lived across tiny Agate Street from us. It was a big deal, as the decade would be changing, something I had never experienced, as I was too young the last time this happened. I couldn’t wait to see what it felt like; the end of The Fifties!

Midnight came, and Jim and I ran up and down Agate Street banging pots and pans together to celebrate the new decade. I awoke the next morning, looked out my window, and...nothing was changed. I was a bit surprised. Life just went on as if nothing had happened. I began to suspect that “decades” were not real; they were an invention, and that one was just like every other. Is that all there is to a decade? Banging Pots and Pans?

After reading this story, please share your thoughts and comments with the author and fellow MBM members below.

Do you have a similar experience? Consider sharing your story with us. We'd love to hear from you.

What Is She Thinking: A Canyon of Quandaries

Michele Johnson Keesee, a resident of Atkins, VA shares a story featuring her daughter, Kali and the struggles she faces.

What Is She Thinking: A Canyon of Quandaries
By: Michele Johnson Keesee
© 2008 by Michele Johnson Keesee.

Two beautiful, ocean-blue eyes stared blankly from behind scratchproof lenses. Her mouth gaped, and the sauce from the breadsticks she ate moments beforehand stained the corners of her mouth. Her facial muscles slacked and her shoulders slumped. Her mind had retreated to that special place, her face utilizing its shield, guarding her private thoughts.

Over the years, I watched my daughter grow from a premature infant into an immature teen. I sat in the far corner of the room, watching Kali and thought, “What could I have done? I did everything the doctors told me to do.”

Born six weeks early on an unseasonably warm winter day, Kali triumphed, insisting her right to exist. She required no assistance in maintaining her unexpected early arrival. Breathing and eating, just like any full-term newborn, four days after her birth, the hospital released her into my care.

I remember the joy and the feeling of pride. Looking down in my hands, remembering how wonderful it felt to hold Kali when she was an infant. How was I to know something was wrong? That problems would arise and the feeling of helplessness would soon conquer all?


After reading this story, please share your thoughts/comments with the author and fellow MBM members below.

Do you have a similar experience? Consider sharing your story with us. We'd love to hear from you.