Monday, August 15, 2011

A Time and Season for Everything

A Proper Time and Procedure for Every Matter:

I almost had to laugh when I reviewed last month's post. I was making significant progress with a variety of projects when a multitude of circumstances arose and ground almost everything to a halt. I have managed to produce a weekly post on, which chronicles a recent trip to Italy, but that has been the extent of any meaningful work on my other writing projects. There was unexpected travel to NY because of the very sad passing of someone who was like family and shortly thereafter important medical issues with my mom, which took me out of state in yet another direction. Fortunately, Mom is doing just fine now, but we need to make some changes to have her in close proximity to us so we can be of better and speedier assistance to her in the future.

Life has a way of presenting emergency situations and priorities that cannot be ignored in spite of the fact that, as writers, we would love to retreat to a location where there are no interruptions or responsibilities that beckon us away from our work. When the time is right, I'll be once again firmly planted on the writing track. Until then, however, I wanted to share a few hints for assisting older relatives/friends with preserving their stories:

Motivate them by telling them how important it is to you that their memories be captured.
Encourage them by spending quality time with them to elicit their stories.
Move slowly. You can't rush them. They won't cooperate if they are feeling pressured.
Offer them the Mini-Memoir as a starting point. Free access at
Initiate memory-generating conversations. Use a small recorder to preserve the dialog.
Retrieve old family photos, albums or movies to refresh their memories.
Supply questions in advance. They may need time for reflection before answering.

Try to be patient, but remember that their stories will remain with them and be unobtainable if they are not captured. I hope that these hints are helpful. I always think about my friend, Sandi, who was inspired to fly to Florida and spend time interviewing and recording hours of conversation and stories with her parents after attending my memoir writing workshop series. During the visit, she learned many details that she had never known and felt so much more connected after completing her story-gathering trip. The following year, the health of her dad deteriorated and he passed away. Within the year, her mother passed as well, and how thankful Sandi is to have taken the time and effort to preserve their stories. There may be no rewind in opportunity to begin a memoir preservation project.

Although you may be going through a difficult time, try to remember that there are others who are experiencing difficulties greater than your own! If you focus on being helpful to them, it frees you to limit the amount of time spent dwelling on your own situation.

I Thessalonians 5:18: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.....(NIV)

Ecclesiastes 8:6: For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a man's misery weighs heavily upon him. (NIV)

Wishing you the best with your writing projects!!! I'm betting that next month's post will be full of uplifting joy and praise!!