“In the particular is contained the universal.”
It’s been a while since I rounded up the stories I’ve been reading to share here—but after a few weeks where I focused on my own writing (at a fabulous retreat with Dani Shapiro in the Berkshires) and my own business (exciting changes coming soon!), I’m back to it.
You may have noticed the new header and photo above; what do you think?
I try to include a wide array of links here, of interest to oral historians, bookmakers, videographers, memoirists, and those with just an inkling of wanting to share their own stories. I never want what we call ourselves to be alienating, nor confusing. I do believe we all have a passion for life stories and legacy, though...so hopefully the name change will be a welcome one. If you’ve got other ideas, please do share!
Our Stories, Our Selves
WHO’S ASKING THE QUESTIONS?
“To be an oral historian is to be a student of life.” As Meghan Vigeant of Stories To Tell in Maine aimed to teach a class of budding oral historians, she soon rediscovered that sometimes, the teacher becomes the student.
TIPS FOR LEGACY KEEPERS
Four ways to make your role as the unofficial family historian easier—and more meaningful, a guest post on The Photo Organizers blog.
IMPERFECT MEMORIES & FAMILY STORIES
“As you preserve your memories, take the time to bask in them. Remember the sensory settings of stories—the sounds, smells, and feel. Remember the associated emotions. Most importantly, enjoy yourself as you share them,” writes Michigan-based author Laura Hedgecock in this post on the fallibility of memory—and why that shouldn’t stop you from writing your life stories.
“DOES MY STORY EVEN MATTER?”
“The smallest moments of average individuals have more depth of meaning that any documentary on a celebrity or political leader imaginable,” writes Devon Noel Lee of Pennsylvania-based America’s Footprints.
Writing Down the Bones
OWNING THE TRUTH
“For writers of memoir, the thin line between fact and fiction must not be crossed, but we face the demands of reducing complex events to comprehensible stories,” says Sarah White of Madison, WI–based First Person Productions. See how an honest, informative disclaimer may inspire compassionate readers.
ONE STORY AT A TIME
“No one will tell your stories but you. And you must: Tell them, and preserve them.” Five ideas for preserving one chapter of your life story, my own most recent post.
WRITING PERSONAL ESSAYS WITH HELP FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES
This piece is a year old, but it is brimming with quality advice, glorious writing, and links and links and links that lead you to even more inspiring personal stories, writing prompts, and fruitful ideas.
AMY TAN ON MEMOIR
“...just as memories can inspire a story, writing can also trigger memories.” Amy Tan revisits the roots of her writing career in her memoir Where The Past Begins.
Finding the Universal in the Particular
- For Decades, One Family’s Vietnam War Pain Lay Hidden Behind a Wall
- Photographer Ernesto Bazan’s new book, Before You Grow Up, is a family album in which elegant photographs are mixed with drawings, letters, his mother’s journal entries, memorabilia and notebook pages. “I made this book as a legacy for my sons, a visual testament that they can carry with them, and share with the people that they love,” he said, “and always love each other as my wife and I have been teaching them to do.”
[New York Times]
- Celebrating the History of Jews in America: Created by the National Museum of American Jewish History, Re:collection is a new—free—digital platform for preserving and sharing family stories that illustrate Jewish life in America.
RESEARCHING WITH GENEALOGY & ARCHAEOLOGY
In the latest episode of her Life Preservers podcast, Pam Pacelli Cooper of Massachusetts-based Verissima Productions explores how you reconstruct a full picture of a person using archaeology and genealogy research—using the unexpected example of prostitutes in 19th century Boston.
GENEALOGY VS. FAMILY HISTORY STORIES
In this most recent episode of The Legacy Café, host Robb Lucy converses with the president of the Southern California Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists about tying your family history to your family legacy. Where should one start: with the leaves on their family tree, or with the family stories passed down through generations?
I’m currently in the middle of reading Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo Da Vinci, the former Time magazine chief’s most recent bio (others include Steve Jobs; Einstein: His Life and Universe; Benjamin Franklin: An American Life; and Kissinger: A Biography). In an in-depth interview with Tim Ferriss, Isaacson delves into his writing process, lessons he has learned from his subjects, and so much more. “I like writing biography because it connects us with people,” he says. “The narrative of a human life is particularly exciting.”