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Memoir Musings -- Ideas, tips and inspiration for March
March 17, 2010

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Feature: Teaching the Teacher

How-To Tip: Police Sketches

Upcoming Events

Memoir in the News: Too Close to the Falls

This Month's Story Prompt

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Teaching the TeacherLife story writing

What are some lessons learned from the past year of teaching Life Story Workshops? Full answers would fill volumes, so let me highlight three absolutes.

First, there is no disputing it--every person has had moments (or months, or years) of breathtaking joy and pain, uncertainly and serenity, accomplishment and loss. With gentle coaxing, these breathtaking moments translate into equally breathtaking stories.

Second, even the most self-conscious writer is able to express those experiences in heartfelt stories. Life story classes are not "writing classes" per se; instead, they focus on good story telling tactics. The growth in story telling, in a matter of weeks, is consistent and inspiring.

Lastly, and to no surprise, the best teachers are the students themselves. They enrich one another (and me) with a constant array of life experiences; they coach one another to greater clarity and emotion in their stories. They laugh together, cry together, and learn together. They cheer one another on, all-the-while providing useful and supportive feedback.

I am blessed to witness to it all.

-Mary Ann Mayers.

How-To-Tip: Police Sketches How To Tip Toolbox

Whether you are writing or recording you life story, your stories are constantly introducing new characters -- family members, friends, co-workers, etc.

Your words need to help your audience form a strong mental picture of the new character -- how he looks and sounds, how he moves and talks, how he interacts with you and others. Think "police sketch" -- what information could you provide to police to help pull this person from a crowd of people of similar physical features??

Point out striking physical characteristics. Use his words to reveal personality and relationships. Use his actions to reveal motivations and tendencies. When you help your audience see, hear and begin to understand him (or her), they can fully enter your story and experience its events along side you, the story teller.

Upcoming Events
Extraordinary Lives web site

Beginning Life Story Workshop

  • Twin Lakes Community (for residents only)
  • February 18-March 11

Beginning Life Story Workshop

  • Springfield Township Community Center
  • April 6-April 27
  • Tuesdays, 1:00-2:30,
  • Call 513-522-1154 to enroll

Advanced Life Story Workshop

  • Springfield Township Community Center
  • April 6-April 27
  • Tuesdays, 3:00-4:30,
  • Call 513-522-1154 to enroll

Memoir in the News

memoir newsI just heard that Catherine Gildiner has written a second installment in her planned three-part memoir. The first, Too Close to the Falls, is one of my favorites. In that memoir, she details her youngest years, a childhood far from idyllic. She spent much of her early years as navigator for an illiterate deliveryman from her father's pharmacy. The pair had one adventure after another, including encounters with the day's biggest move stars. As far as memoirs that make you cringe, laugh, and cry, this one is hard to beat. I am looking forward to the second, After the Falls.

By the way, I also heard Catherine speak at an Association of Personal Historians conference; she is a riveting speaker!


This Month's Story Prompt:
story prompt

Staying on topic with the opening article, recall a story in which you were either the student giving a teacher a lesson, or the teacher learning from your students.

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