From June 2011 Tips and TalesAnd this is how it began –
About a year and a half ago my wife, Helen, called our daughter, Julie, and asked what the kids would like for Christmas. When she called back she said Daniel would like grandpa to write some of his stories. When the kids visited, Daniel was the one that always wanted grandpa to tell a story, mostly about his military experiences. My first thought was, I can’t even write a decent letter let alone write a story.
A couple months later there was an announcement about starting a writing group. I reluctantly signed up both Helen and me. About ten residents attended and the instructor was a teacher between jobs. She admitted that she had never taught a class in writing,but in addition to teaching high school English she had written several stories and edited books for a publisher on the side.
After handing out a couple of instruction books, the conversation kind of moved around to what kind of stories did each of us want to learn to write. I thought the general discussion was leading to writing autobiographies. I was just there to learn to write one story for a nephew! As we were thumbing through one of the instruction books, I ran across a paragraph that described the importance of grandparents writing about their life so their future generations understood what it was like many years before.
In the next couple of classes you could feel the group interest was rising. I was personally feeling a sense of obligation to describe the time of my growing up. A couple of the attendees had actually written, or had started to write, their life history. It was not only terrifically interesting to hear the story, but I was also encouraged by their explanation on how they started and how they remembered.
My challenge was the remembering part. I can’t remember names and places now; how could I remember something I did when I was 10 years old? I read the instruction book cover-to-cover thinking I could never do all of this. The instructor said once you decided who your audience was and how you wanted to organize your thoughts; everything else was easy – you only had to remember your life. My first thought was, “I retired so I didn’t have to make any more decisions”.
It took me a couple days, but I decided that my audience would be my great, great, great, great granddaughter or grandson who will be living on the moon. As to my organization, I decided to start at birth and have a sequential life. Another option was to write on whatever your subject, whatever your time. Did I say that I wanted to write one simple story?
Our “Write Your Story” group has been meeting every Tuesday night for almost 2 years. Sometimes we will have seven or eight attendees and sometimes 12 or 15. There are no rules and no requirements (perfect for senior citizens). Come when you wish, write part of your story when you wish, offer suggestions when you wish. What has developed is that one person will read the story they have written and then ask for comments. It’s a great benefit to hear how listeners hear what you think you’ve written. As you listen to other stories, you are reminded of things that you should have remembered in your story. Comments such as: “what was the name of that city”, “what date was that”, “what were you thinking”. Comments and recommendations really help a lot. When listening to the stories, we sure do learn about the other writers. Even more surprising is how much we learn about our spouses. Don’t be afraid, come join us. You’ll be glad you did. >Whit Scully
— and now the rest of the story: The Writer’s Group is still writing, although they’re on “vacation” for the summer and gathering new material before resuming meetings in the fall.