Memories take us back – dreams take us forward
My daughter had an operation last week which has left her housebound for two weeks. She has a high pressure job and being at home not able to move around much has left her mind racing in the What can I do next on my computer? mode.
Enter – Let’s go through old photographs time.
The photo above is me admiring my first writing award (Cairns Post Writers Award). After the awards ceremony we hit the town and painted it red (as you do). The pic was taken the following morning with my mother-in-law’s old camera and, needless to say, I was suffering the effects of the previous evening!
Since that time I’ve won what they (other authors) call ‘more exclusive’ awards, but the first one always holds that special place in my heart. I haven’t seen this photo for a couple of years and when my daughter put it on Facebook all the memories and the excitement I felt at the time came flooding back.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that writing can be a damn hard business. You have (what I call) that monkey on your back, and no matter what you’re doing you’re always thinking, ‘there’s a story in that.’
In fact, everyone’s life is a story. I’m a very passionate believer in everyone writing their life story. I told this to a woman at work and she came back with ‘I don’t write.’ But the thing is, you don’t have to be a writer to write your life story. Within two weeks she had started ‘her story’ and now tells me it’s the best move she ever made.
This all comes back to my first memory post. To write your life story you start with the first thing you remember. It can sound quite boring at first, but once you get into it, it’s very rewarding. No one has to read it. My life story is tucked soundly away for posterity in the hope that one day my grandchildren and great grandchildren may want to know who I was. I wish my ancestors had done this – all I know of anyone older than my parents are the faded photographs on walls. I don’t know their loves and hates, their first memories or their happiest and saddest moments. I find this very sad indeed.
Once I started writing ‘my story’ I got through an entire page of everything I remembered up to the age of 15. But then a strange thing happened. I recounted a story about my sister-in-law. Hang on – I met her when I was 11 (back I go to add how we first met). Then I recounted a story about my then best friend. Hang on – I forgot to include how we first met (go back again).
After twelve months ‘my story’ to age 15 had increased from one page to 10 pages! The more I wrote, the more I remembered.
The beauty of writing your life story is that it doesn’t have to be written in best-seller style, it doesn’t have to fit into any genre, doesn’t need an agent and it doesn’t have to be in a publishable state. Some of my life story is nothing more than dot points!
Every few months I go back and add a little more – who knows, one day I may be so old I can’t remember things and need to go back and check what my life was really like!
Until that day comes I’ll keep plugging away at it regardless of how major or minor things are – how I ran away from boarding school; my first love left me for my best friend; the music I love; my favourite foods; my miscarriage; the overwhelming adoration I have for my children; the time I fought off a taipan with a broom; how I was knocked out by a ceiling fan; my love of fishing; my first toy; my friends, enemies and lovers – and the list goes on and on.
Now I feel comfort in the fact that when my grandchildren and their children’s children think of me, they’ll certainly see more than a faded photograph on the wall.
When are you going to start penning your life story?