Tag Archives: Blaise van Hecke

Whose Story are You Telling?

10478216_897380713609499_4540340778360193946_nMemory can be a fickle business and everyone will have their own version of history, depending on their age, gender, where they sit amongst siblings in age, and the way they feel within a family. In my family of two brothers and one sister, one event from our childhood will have four different versions of the ‘truth’.

So who does your story belong to when you’re writing your family history? Should you consult your siblings, or any other members of the family before you put something out there in the public forum?

There is no right or wrong answer and I’m sure we could have a great debate about it.

Last week, when I was at the Byron Bay Writer’s Festival, I had the pleasure of listening to many writers about their writing of memoirs. One panel, ‘The Secret Lives of Mothers and Fathers’, had Kate Grenville, Ramona Koval and Barrie Cassidy. Each one of them has written about their parents and the secrets that many families might hide.

Ramona believes that Bloodhound: Searching For My Father is her story to tell, despite her sister not wanting to know the truth when a DNA test showed that they are half sisters. From hearing her speak, you could tell that she would have been like a dog with a bone (pun intended) in her search for answers. Kate Grenville, One Life: My Mother’s Story, on the other hand believes that family stories belong to everyone and that the writer needs to respect this when sharing the story.

As you can tell, this topic had both women polarized. Barrie on the other hand had consulted with his siblings and they all felt that the story needed to be told. Maybe it depends on what secrets are being shared. Either way, out of respect for anyone who might be connected to your story, you should let them know about what you’re doing and maybe let them be involved in the process. You might also find that they will add value to the story by putting forward their own memories, experiences and opinions.

Thanks to the Byron Bay Writer’s Festival, I have a few more books on my ‘to read’ list now …

The Art of Journaling

I’ve just read Eva Luna by Isabel Allende. It’s typical of Allende’s writing: rich, erotic and inventive. Towards the end of the novel, Eva Luna, explains her intent in writing, ‘I try to open a path through that maze, to put a little order in that chaos, to make life more bearable. When I write, I describe life as I would like it to be.’

This statement really resonated with me because I often ask myself, and other writers that I know, why write? This got me thinking about journaling.

This is me in the 70s, always jotting, drawing or reading. Haven’t changed much!

Journaling is a great way to put a little order in the chaos that might be happening around us. It doesn’t have to be the makings of a written piece for anyone else’s eyes but it can help the writer find ways to articulate what they want to say. My own experience with this is that I find kernels of good material that can be used in my writing that will be put in front of readers.

The idea of journaling is to dump ideas, thoughts and feelings onto the page. I suggest that these pages are hand written because you will be more in tune with what you are doing. It’s also great to get away from the computer. This is NOT the time to censor yourself or to worry about the state of the writing. If you start doing this, you won’t free flow. Remember this is not literary mastery but a way to get to the core of who you are and where you are. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar or complete sentences.

If you write in a free way for five to ten minutes, you’ll be amazed what comes out. It’ll be choppy to start with and you may feel a little stumped. If this happens, write about the mundane things that happened during the day and you’ll find that it becomes easier in a few minutes.

If you really can’t think of anything to write about, record what you are grateful for. Describe these things in as much detail as you can. In my journal there are little things like the joy of slipping between freshly laundered sheets or a description of our puppy chewing on a toy. Another way to get into the flow is to write about events from your childhood. They can be happy or sad. Be sure to use all the senses when describing the events. This task will unearth thoughts and feelings that you haven’t considered for many years.

Don’t be frightened by dark things that might come up. By writing through it you will find light to shine onto the darkness. These are the times when you can explore the darkness in a safe environment.

Showing up to the page every day will create good writing habits. Journaling can be a great segue into better emotional wellbeing as well as unearthing some great insights that can be transferred into other writing projects.