Life Story Links: July 15, 2019
“We tend to be preoccupied by the present, with one eye cocked on the future. But history, after all, isn’t really about the past. Our history is about who we are right now and where, as a society, we’re headed (just as an obituary isn’t about death but about a life).”
Turn the Page
Memoir reading suggestions to inspire your own vignette-style life story writing, from Annie Dillard and Kelly Corrigan to Robert Fulghum and Sandra Cisneros.
BOOKS FOR THE AGES
“Books are a portal to our personal histories. Pick up a worn copy of a childhood favorite and you might be transported to the warmth of a parent’s arms or a beanbag chair in a first-grade classroom or a library in your hometown. Avid readers could build autobiographies around their favorite books...” With that, the team at the Washington Post has developed a fabulous list of what to read at every age, from one to 100.
The New York Times’s book critics select the 50 best memoirs of the past 50 years. Cool feature: Click the asterisks throughout the article to create your own list of must-read books. Do your favorites make the list?
THE ART OF EDITING
Patricia Charpentier’s Orlando–based Writing Your Life hosted its first live webinar, The Art of Editing, on June 8. Catch a replay of the educational 90-minute webinar here.
Personal historian Mary Voell's 16-week online course The Making of a Family Historian provides a framework and tools to organize and research family history before beginning your autobiographical writing.
True Stories Uniquely Told
TWO SISTERS, ONE MEMOIR
“Recently two sisters in their seventies asked if I could help them write a joint memoir,” Massachusetts–based personal historian Nancy West says. Though they lived in the same household, the sisters had substantively different childhood experiences, making the exploration of their shared past that much more fascinating.
PERSONALIZING IMPERSONAL RECORDS
Thor Ringler has run the My Life, My Story program at the the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, since 2013. In that time the program has recorded life stories of more than 2,000 veterans—and placed the short biographies in each vet's' electronic medical record.
“At almost the exact moment my family left Warsaw for the long trip across Europe to Antwerp and a ship to America, a second group started the trip as well, this one carrying forged visas and passports with the names of my family members,” Kenneth D. Ackerman writes in this investigation into the “the immigrant forger” Joseph Rubinsky.
THE ACHES AND PAINS OF MEMOIR
“The risk of nonfiction is that people are like ‘I know everything about you,’ and I’m like no, you just know this fun house mirrored projection of the people in my life through one lens, which is mine.” T Kira Madden, Roxanne Gay, and other memoirists on the dialogue around their writing.
THIS IS MY BRAVE
After chronicling her challenges of living with mental illness while raising two young children, and striking a chord with many people, Jennifer Marshall morphed her blog into a powerful nonprofit that uses storytelling as a tool for healing.
Time for Headphones
Believable is a podcast from Narratively “about how our stories define who we are.” Each episode “dives into a personal, eye-opening story where narratives conflict, and different perspectives about the truth collide.” In this episode, a woman’s struggle to corroborate her own life:
EXTENDING YOUR REACH
Listen to Lettice Stuart discuss incorporating public speaking into your personal history business marketing plan on the latest episode of Amy Woods Butlers’ The Life Story Coach podcast.