I teach memoir because I want to help others remember the past. I want others to preserve their memories so no one’s left wondering what happened? Writing down the past provides a link, like a rope between the past and the future. Some people want to capture their stories to give something real and tangible to their grandchildren; others want to feel that their life meant and means something.
Writing your memoirs can also teach you to stop cycles of abuse and give logic to highly charged emotions. Writing down your memoirs may not eliminate family secrets but it can create reckoning and growth. Memoir writing helps you control something in the present you weren’t able to control in the past and that is so powerful.
I think it’s a shame that we cannot be witness to so many of our grandparents’ lives because they didn’t leave a record for their descendants. For instance, I hardly know anything about my French grandmother, born in 1895, died in 1995. My namesake. I know she could sew and cook and lost three brothers (or was it an uncle in WWI in Northern France?) but I don’t even know what she looked like before the age of 50. She didn’t like to have her pictures taken and my mother told me she burned all of her photos because she didn’t want anyone making fun of the clothes she wore back in the day. At least I had a chance to know her, while my younger brother probably only remembers a very old woman yelling at him in French. They didn’t have much of a relationship as he was 10 the last time he saw her, while I was 14. If she had written a letter to both of us or exclusively to my brother (who was named after her husband, my grandfather), my brother would have felt much more connected to his grandmother and she to him.
On the other hand, my father’s father kept meticulous records and I have many of his framed postcards and ship paintings hanging in our house. He was a retired naval captain who served in Bremerhaven after WWII and commanded a ship in the Pacific during WWII. On the backs of the postcards and photos he lists where/when and who. He was a nonfiction writer who wrote for Naval Proceedings and in later years for the Op-Ed section of his local paper in Annapolis, Maryland. Because of Grandpa Osborn I have my childhood photos of me at age 3 and 5 from his mantle. My parents and I are estranged from each other and I don’t have any photos of myself that I didn’t take. So my grandfather’s photos of me are the only ones I have which I acquired after he died in 1998.
When you write down your memories you’re also preserving them and you help connect others to your life. If you are interested in learning more about writing your memoirs and are ready to jump in, sign up for my “Sharing Your Story: A Beginning Memoir Experience” at A Place for Women to Gather in North Raleigh starting Tues. January 11th to Tues. February 15th (six weeks) from 11:30-1:30pm. No previous experience is required and all writers at all levels are welcome to join us. And don’t let the name fool you—gentlemen: we welcome you, too! Cost is $60, which is extremely reasonable—only $10 a 90 min class. You can register online HERE
Looking forward to having you share your story with us!Alice
Sharing your Story: A New Beginning Memoir Experience
Location: A Place for Women to Gather, 8380 Six Forks Rd, Suite 201, Raleigh, NC 27615
Starting Tues Jan 11th through Tues Feb 15th Duration: 6 weeks
Suggested Donation: $60
Time: 11:30-1:30, participants bring their own lunch. Drinks and dessert provided.
To Register, click HERE or email Alice or call Alice at 919-971-9414