So, big news today, at least in my little world. I have completed the first draft of my latest novel. Yes, this is the third first draft, but hopefully the last. Not to say that it's anywhere close to finished. There will still be hours of tweaking and twiddling, cleaning up typos and repetitions, ironing out inconsistencies, but the heaviest lifting should be done (fingers crossed).
In the meantime, I have been invited to talk to the Women's Club here in town, an honor I earned by way of inflicting my rural humor column on readers of a few area newspapers every other week. I did a similar talk last week for the Friends of the Library. If you have nothing whatsoever to do for the next half an hour you can see the video over on the right sidebar under MFR Live, or click here.
This week I'm changing it up, talking about writing real life, which means things like memoirs and biographies, but also includes what I do here, and in my newspaper column. In my own way, I am recording the history of my people, whether they want me to or not. The majority of my stories are true, though often sanitized or embellished as needed to fill space on the page and avoid being banished forever from family gatherings.
Out of curiosity, how many of those who read this post have considered writing a memoir, or a family history? How many have actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keys, in this day and age)?
Since joining the board of directors at our local historical museum, my views on memoirs, family histories and even diaries have changed tremendously. I'd always thought of these things in one of two ways: either you had to live a big, important life to be worth writing about (aka, selling) or it only mattered to your family. Now I've seen how these personal accounts of a normal life can be a treasure trove for historians.
Rather than blathering on, I'm going to refer you to one of the masters, William Zinsser, whose book On Writing Well is considered a touchstone for non-fiction writers. This article from The American Scholar is a wonderful read: How to Write a Memoir
From that article I condensed this nugget, a bit of advice any writer in any genre should heed:
"When you write...don't try to be a writer....Be yourself and your readers will follow you anywhere. Try to commit an act of writing and your readers will jump overboard to get away."
So write your stories, large or small. You never know what value they will hold for those to come.