This brings a couple of lifestory-related thoughts to mind. One is to urge you to write about holidays past. The focus right now is on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
You don’t have to write whole stories if you don’t have time, but as you think of them, jot some notes. Remember those index cards I keep harping on? Keep a few with you for this purpose. You might include a title line (which may change when the actual story is written, or not be used at all if you incorporate the memory in another story), and perhaps a few words or sentences to jump start the flow when you get back to it. Story idea lists are another option.
The other thought relates to gifts. A book of your stories would make a stunning holiday gift. If you haven’t started yet, it may be ambitious to envision one hundred polished pages printed by Lulu before December 25. If you already have a pile of stories, you may be able to weave something together by then, following the guidelines in Chapter 11 of The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing.
Grandchildren may be among the most appreciative recipients, especially if the stories are about your happy memories that include them. They love to see lots of pictures, with themselves prominently featured.
If you need help inserting pictures in your stories, turn to page 264 in The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing and follow the instructions. I do suggest you be generous in the sizing, especially if you are working with standard 8½ x 11 inch paper. It’s difficult to see details in tiny pictures, and they tend to look lost on the larger page. My experience with The Albuquerque Years proved beyond a doubt that it’s far better to avoid the temptation to resize the picture in Word or OpenOffice and use a photo editing program to resize it to the precise size you want in your document. None of the pictures I edited in the final document printed well, and I had to redo them, “the right way.”
There’s more to the gift angle than just your own stories. Nearly all of us have relatives who are so full of stories, everyone keeps urging them to “write those stories down.” They keep looking away and muttering. Wrap a copy of The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing for them and place it under the tree. I know of several instances where this has worked to get the ink flowing. A typical comment:
Thanks for sending the copy of The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing. It was just what I needed to get a sense of how to get started and go about it. My wife and kids are thrilled that I finally got off the dime and urging me to stick with it. Thanks to you and Sharon for the nudge.You better believe my little heart went pitty-pat when I read that unsolicited testimonal in an e-mail. Few things are as rewarding as confirmation that your writing hits the target.
Write now: about holiday memories through the years. Did you have an especially memorable Christmas? Get the gift of your dreams? Do any holidays stand out as flaming disasters? Write stories, jot ideas on index cards, or expand your story idea list. You needn't be limited to memory stories. Write about your reaction to the ever-advancing onset of Christmas. Remember when stores weren't decorated until after Thanksgiving? What about the super-sizing of gifts? Expound on your pet peeves and joys.
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal