What should I write about?
Funny stories that will help us look at our lives with a fresh perspective. Serious tales that will inspire us with lessons of resilience and courage. Accounts of ordinary days and activities that will teach us to value everyday moments. Anecdotes that will make us wonder at the uncommon valor of common people. Stories that you’d like future generations to remember. Memories of people who have changed your life.
Write about the easy stuff and the hard stuff, the funny stuff and the serious stuff, the stuff you think will offer guidance and hope and courage to others.
Ask yourself what stories have been passed down to you that you’d like to share with your grandchildren? What would you like them to know about their grandparents and great-grandparents, their uncles and aunts, your life partner . . . you? What people in your life do you need to thank for helping you have the kind of life you have today? Who were your mentors who shaped your life? Who would you like to honor with your words and your affection? Whose story will add to the rich fabric of our shared humanity? Whose story is nudging you on the shoulder asking to be told?
What if I don’t have enough information to tell the “whole” story?
Write your story with what you have, what you learn through research, and what listening to your ancestors tells you.
When I sat down to write about my Swedish immigrant grandparents, I knew something about their lives from family memorabilia and my mother’s stories, but I didn’t know enough to fill out their entire story and how they must have felt experiencing the tragedies that befell them. So I did some research about people in similar places, under similar conditions, and I imagined myself into their lives.
My story about them is based on truth and what I imagine the truth might be. Feel free to do the same with your stories. See yourself around a campfire telling tales passed down to you from wise family elders. Capture the truth as best you can, but also tell a good story, one you hope might teach us something about being human.
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