Travel Reflections – Part 1

Click image for attribution
Click image for attribution

Recently, we traveled via Amtrak from Portland to Chicago.  Our destination a small town in Tennessee by rental car.

Our grandson, Kory, graduated high school on May 18th and that ceremony was part of our reason for travelling.  However, we have other family in the area we visited as well.  More about that later.

What I want to write about here are the stories we heard and shared with total strangers, who became friends, as we travelled the journey mapped here.

The morning after our trip began on a Monday afternoon we met a mother and her young daughter, Evelyn, aged 3.  Their trip was a surprise graduation gift for Evelyn’s aunt. Grandma was disappointed they couldn’t come, so bought their train tickets.  Evelyn regaled us with her stories of the train trip so far.

Evelyn’s storytelling skills were amazing, her use of words astounding.  Curiosity drove us to ask her mother how Evelyn had gained such a command of the language.  Evelyn’s dad began reading to her as soon as she came home from the hospital, and as a family they share stories in the evening about their days.  Kudos to this young family!  I predict Evelyn may be a writer some day.

Click on image for attribution
Click on image for attribution

Among our travelling companions were three young adult women committed to the German Baptist Brethren faith.  Each of them had been to a place of service in the Northwest, and now they were on their way to an annual camp meeting. Their peaceful and quiet conversation, coupled with their delight in sharing about their growing up and current lifestyle, made for pleasant company as we travelled.  The photo here is not of these young women, but it is representative of their dress.

The storytelling skills these three shared were gifts passed down through generations.  One of them was constantly writing in a journal. Yet more evidence of the importance of sharing our stories with our children, grandchildren, and others, and the benefit of recording in a journal to remember the stories we want to share.

Our interactions with Evelyn and our German Brethren friends grew short as the rails sped under and behind us.  We reached Chicago not having met too many others on the train, at least who excited us with their storytelling quite like these already mentioned.

Grandpa Bob and Kory
Grandpa Bob and Kory

The trip to Chicago was about 48 hours and then we had another eight hours of driving.However, our arrival was in good time for graduation on the 18th.  And we’re so proud of Kory, seen here with my husband, Bob, following his graduation ceremony.

Our first night together with our daughter Suzanne, her son Kory and Bob’s ex-wife, Linda, was a time of sharing stories and catching up.  The storytelling had caught my attention on the train, and I wanted to spread that gift throughout our family.

Kory has done amazing things the past 12 years.  Kory has completed his education in spite of ADHD and Asperger’s.  Although he is still combating difficulties in some areas, Kory’s determination led him to apply to and receive acceptance from a local university in his home town.  In fact, the white honor cord he is wearing is for achieving one of the highest ACT scores in his class, an accomplishment which has earned him a couple of scholarships.

I have much more to share with you about storytelling, family, the highs and lows of our journey and what I learned about people and their stories.  Come back on Monday, June 3rd, for the next installment.

Writing Garret Underway

In a post a few weeks ago, I wrote about the need for a quiet place to write.  Discussions at a writing conference had planted seeds of hope for such a space.
Work on completing the renovation in my sewing room to offer for a small, yet efficient writing space has begun but need to use the space before completion interrupted my work.  So, I present you with a few images of where I am when writing:

My Writing Corner
My Writing Corner

As you can see, remnants of sewing days remain, some I wanted to keep nearby.  The rack of colored spools of thread offer inspiration when wishing to describe a scene, the file rack although made from fabric offers a place to store important information, and yes, due to laziness the wallpaper remains (sewing-themed, of course) as do a couple of cherished prints given to me by family members, also lending inspiration.

Books and Things
Books and Things

Visible here are some tools of our trade.  Books I’m reviewing.  Resource tools, like The Chicago Style Manual, The Elements of Style, Bird by Bird, and The Memoir Project.  No writer can solely depend on the computer, so pencils and paper are nearby as well as things you cannot see like a calendar, clock and music for company, my radio.

It’s a far cry from what some would call ideal or perfect, but I cannot begin to tell you the difference in what I carry out in this tiny space as opposed to attempting to work in the family room or dining area of our kitchen.

Lesson in all this:  If at all possible, carve out not only time for writing but also a quiet place you can all your own.  One that makes you want to be in it to write.

A few thoughts from writers on writing space:

“Put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down
there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room.”
~ Stephen King

“A woman must have money and a room of her own
if she is to write fiction.”

~ Virginia Woolf

“The writing life is defined by the succession of choices you make,
primary among them whether or not you will write. You honor
your writing space by entering it with this mantra:

‘I am ready to work.’
You enter, grow quiet, and vanish into your writing.”

~ Eric Maisel

Note to Followers and Readers

just a noteMy husband and I have been, and still are, travelling in the southern part of our country, specifically to see our grandson graduate from high school and visit with family.  It had been my intention to post along the way, but unfortunately I fell ill on Thursday last, missed graduation, and am just today feeling well enough to post this note to you.
I wanted you to know that I have not fallen into an abyss, or off the edge of the earth, and our train did not take us to places where we’ve been ultimately lost in another world.  I am on the mend, we are on our last day of relaxation, and tomorrow we head back to the Amtrak station in Chicago to return home.

More posts are coming, and I hope you’ll hang in there with me until I’m back into my blogging groove.

Memoir Writing Resources

This post was first published on September 26, 2012.  Since I am taking a few days away from the office, I thought I’d share this one with you again.  These are all good resources for someone interested in memoir writing.  And when I return this is a post I need to update with some new finds.

The word “memoir” is everywhere today, and everyone is telling their story — or at least a central and important part of their life’s story.

Everyone has memories, which often are good storytelling material.  So, don’t be daunted by the number of memoirs you find on bookstore shelves or at the library.  There is always room for another well written memoir.

BUT where do you find the tools to make sure your story catches the reader’s interest?

A few of my favorite places:

1.  Amber Lea Starfire’s web site, Writing Through LifeAmber Starfire utilizes journaling, memoir, and art to instruct her readers in the practice of telling your life story.  Additionally, she offers a free weekly ezine to keep you informed about what’s going on in the genre.  Also, Starfire offers workshops and individualized instruction.

2.  Jerry Waxler’s site, Memory Writers NetworkNot only is Jerry Waxler an author, speaker and teacher, he is a specialist in self-development for writers.  His blog includes book reviews, articles, essays and author interviews, as well as many resources.  Additionally, Jerry serves on the Advisory Board of National Association of Memoir Writers.  Jerry’s books are in my list of suggested writing resources.

3.  Sharon Lippincott’s site, The Heart and Craft of Life Writing. Here is a gold mine of information.  Sharon is also a member of the Advisory Board for National Association of Memoir Writers.  Sharon’s blog offers tips, observations and guidelines for life writing as well as many resources that will aid the memoir writer in developing into a successful storyteller.  Sharon’s books are in my list of suggested writing resources.

4.  Linda Joy Myers’ site, Memories and Memoirs, is a great resource for memoir writers of all stages.  Linda Joy is a writing coach, teacher and memoir guru.  She offers workshops and as founder and the energy behind the National Association of Memoir Writers is among the top proponents of memoir writing in the world.  Her site will introduce you to many facets not only of learning about memoir writing but will give the necessary tips and tools to move forward.  Linda Joy’s books are also listed in my suggested writing resources.

5.  National Association of Memoir Writers (“NAMW”) is “a membership organization for memoir writers from all over the world.”  NAMW exists to connect, educate, and empower memoir writers to begin to tell their stories and eventually complete those works with a culmination in publication.  NAMW’s site is replete with resources for the novice to the accomplished memoir writer.  I urge you to visit the site and avail yourself of its many offerings.  Once you’ve become familiar with the site, I think you, as I did, will see the value behind membership if you are serious about writing memoir.

This list is just a start but I believe these sites are the best starting points for the novice and the foundation on which advanced writers come to rely.

I will continue to offer more resources as I continue posting to this blog, but do hope you have found today’s listing helpful.