Anonymous posted a comment to the Fascinate Your Readers lifestory writing blog suggesting “You might be really creative and make it interesting and worthwhile for them.” This reader then goes on to share a delightfully colorful story about the adventures of (his?) grandparents.
My first thought was that Anonymous was suggesting that having grandparents with colorful stories was enough to entice readers. Indeed! Anyone want to hear about my great-great-grandmother who presumably opened the first brothel in the Yukon? I always get takers for that story.
As I read, I thought about the way colorful content can stand on its own. The need for creativity arises when the content of life is less shocking and colorful; when the sun shines on dirt-brown days through a filtered haze over the flattest of prairies. Therein lies a challenge — to find the wonder in those days and transform them into a gripping testimony of endurance or some such thing.
Then I was caught up short when I reread the end of the comment and finally noticed that Anonymous ended with an unexpected twist that I missed the first time through. Grandmother had given copies of Grandfather’s Story to all the grandchildren, wrapped up with a place setting of the family china. That was indeed a resourceful, and surely welcome, gesture and I’ll bet they did read the story.
The lesson for me was a reminder to read with an open mind, rather than formulating a response ahead of time — had I done that I wouldn’t have missed the ending on the first reading. The lesson for all of us is to think outside the box and look for novel ways to wrap up our own stories. Few of us will have such extravagant adornments as that place setting of china, but a smaller momento would do.
In fact, my favorite resource for unusual ways to showcase your stories is the book Living Legacies: How to Write, Illustrate and Share Your Lifestories, by Duane Elgin and Colleen LeDrew. This elegant gem of a volume includes streamlined instructions for writing lifestories, together with elegant layout examples and instructions for scrapbook pages that combine the stories with memorabilia to illustrate them. I highly recommend this book.
Many thanks to Anonymous for the suggestion, and for sharing the adventures of some spirited ancestors. I’d like to remind Anonymous and others that the HeartandCraft YahooGroup welcomes new members with stories to share, as well as suggestions and questions about lifestory writing.
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal