Looking Forward, Looking Back

The second anniversary of my salon for memoir writers, “First Monday, First Person” is coming up on October 5th. The fifth anniversary of True Stories Well Told is coming up at the end of 2015. This has put me in a reflective mood!

At the end of the first year of publishing this blog, I wrote, “I kept the promise I made myself: I shared stories from my own life and those of my writing students/colleagues. I published occasional writing instruction tips.  I wrote some book reviews. I’ve lived with this little sticky-note on my computer monitor for a year, reminding me to post often and what content to prepare. (It was inspired by those vintage “ice cards”–older readers will know what I mean.)”

Now four years after I wrote that, I look back. Have I kept that promise? More or less. In recent years I veered into special “Seasons of…” when I would publish guest posts on specific writing prompts. I’ve published fewer book reviews–simply because I’ve had less time to read.  I’ve stayed true, I hope, to the core purpose of this blog: to create a virtual place for people who read and write about real life.

Personally, I never feel quite as alive or true to my own core purpose as when I am in that place. I find out who I am when I am there, finding out who you are.

Right now, I’m teaching in a wider variety of ways than ever before. If you peeked at my calendar for this week you would see:

  • Grading final papers for Module 3 the UW-Superior’s Certificate in Life Story Work, the first program to offer CEUs for personal history training. We’ve spent six weeks going through the Developing a Personal History Practice curriculum I wrote.
  • Leading “Write Your ‘Selfie’ Obit” Session 2, offered through the APH Online Education program. As interest in conversations about death and dying grows, this 2-part workshop just gets more and more interesting. Boomers have reinvented every institution we’ve encountered since kindergarten, and we’re now taking on the funeral industry.
  • Wrapping up a special version of  “Write Your Travel Memoirs” for APH members in New Zealand, again through the APH online education program. At the request of Christine Norton, founder of Forget-Me-Not Life Stories, I am training her writing partners (business licensees) to make their clients’ writing tighter and brighter by applying story craft, learned through practice on their own travel memoirs.
  • Preparing for my upcoming workshops on writing family history at Sequoya Library and Wheelhouse Studios. (More info here.)
  • Oh, and look at that–I have appointments for 1:1 coaching coming up, too.

With my upcoming workshops I’m keeping things fresh for myself and my students by shifting from “I” to “We” to “Family Tree”–applying those techniques of story craft that help us craft our own memoirs to telling the stories of people who came before us. This will be an interesting experiment. So let’s think about that “Family History vs. Personal History” dilemma for a moment. Personally, if I had to choose, I’d say it is more important to write our OWN personal histories before we write our family’s history. Not that both aren’t needed–it’s that “put on your own air mask before helping others” rule. Our first person stories can only be written while we’re breathing, after all.

air mask

Reflecting on all this makes me realize–to continue publishing True Stories Well Told, I need your help. Send me your personal essays, book reviews, and writing prompts! See guidelines here.

Let’s keep this a lively place for people who read and write about real life.

About first person productions

My blog "True Stories Well Told" is a place for people who read and write about real life. I’ve been leading life writing groups since 2004. I teach, coach memoir writers 1:1, and help people publish and share their life stories.
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