Bridging the Gap: Sharing Your Family's Life Stories
This article originally appeared in Issue# 52-53
Picture your most recent family get together. Dinner, TV, maybe an argument over what to watch?
How about an evening where "the tube" stays black and your family is the star!
Maybe you're a grandparent with lots of stories you'd love to pass on to your grandchildren - terrific! But what about little Lucy and Billy who are only six or seven - can they join in, too? Sure. As a matter of fact, they may have an edge; this technique involves writing from a child's point of view.
Hiring a director and film crew isn't required. You just need storytelling skills. Instead of a film, the end product will be a story or series of stories written down and then shared to become part of your family's permanent collective memory.
How do you begin? First, recall an incident from your early childhood. If several come to mind, jot them down then select one to start with. Got one? Good! Now take a few moments to "replay" the event in your head. See the place, hear the sounds, smell the smells just as they were. Let yourself go.
Next, write down the "scene" from beginning to end. Let it flow! Resist the urge to edit or censor yourself. The idea is to get it all out - don't worry about grammar or sentence structure.
The next step - gulp, swallow - is rewriting. A diamond doesn't come out of the ground cut and polished; it must be worked and reworked. Same with your story. Pay attention to a few key elements:
- Stay in the first person. Using "I" keeps your story alive.
- Be sure to include your feelings and emotions. Give it some juice.
- Show what you see, tell what you hear. Make it vivid!
Finally, it's time to share the story with your family. Dinner's over, everyone is seated comfortably. Read your story aloud. How does it feel? Exciting! Don't be surprised if other members of your family bring their own stories next time. It can be contagious. Through these sessions, you may find you are becoming closer as a family. And that's more than you can say for watching reruns of The Brady Bunch.
If your appetite is whetted for a more in-depth treatment of this topic, I highly recommend the following book:
Writing From Within, by Bernard Selling, Hunter House Inc., P.O. Box 847, Claremont, CA 91711.