All writers have a process that allows them to create. However, the art of "Writing" is often mistaken for that "Process." Hopefully this blog explains the difference, and inspires people to develop their crafts, become writers, or just keep on writing.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Holidays and Storytellers

I did a lot of thinking about this piece, wondering if it needed to be said or if I just needed to write it. Needless to say, here it is, so I hope you gain something from it. This is about the importance of not just the stories we write, but the stories we tell, the stories we share, and the stories we are a part of that future generations will share. And, indeed, that is where the holiday angle comes in.

Thanks to the relentless march of time, I am now a member of the oldest living generation on my father's side of the family. Pre-COVID, I had aunts and uncles who would tell stories about the many past generations of our family and all the weird little secrets and rumors. Which member of our family was thought to be a warlock? Did any relatives do jail time? Which of our grand-uncles fought in the Civil War? Each question had a story as the answer, and we would listen to the rumors surrounding our great-grand uncle, "Devil Dan," or the incident that put a grand-uncle in the Crowbar Hotel for a while, or the battles our many relatives who served in the Union army fought in. I appreciated every one of those stories as a family member. As a writer, I knew it would someday be my job to pass them along. Now, with my aunts and uncles no longer able to share those stories, that day has arrived.

This is where the holidays get involved. Hopefully, you all are back to having some kind of family gathering and a house filled with more relatives than once thought possible. I also hope that you have an older generation who shows up, has some food, settles into the softest chair, and tells stories of the good ol' days, because those stories are your stories to absorb and pass along. And, if I dare be so bold, it might be worth the time and effort to write down a few of those while they're still fresh in your memory. Or even better, put on your writer's cap and discuss those stories with the people who know them firsthand, thinking about just how you would tell this story. 

It may seem boring when Uncle George goes on about what it was like growing up as a Baby Boomer, but that is your opportunity. Think about how different that world was to our current life. Ask about things like not having highways, or what a party line was, or their favorite TV show as a kid. Go digging for details about the first polio vaccine, or hearing the Beatles. Find all of those little details, those golden nuggets of memories that sit at the core of who your relatives are. Does it sound like you're interviewing Uncle George instead of talking with him? Maybe. But the beauty of this is that you will discover stories you never knew existed, which will hopefully lead to more questions, more information, and more stories. And who knows - maybe Uncle George suddenly isn't that boring anymore.

I look forward to the holidays for this exact reason - the opportunity to share the wealth of knowledge that has poured down from past generations. And as for my mother's side of the family, there are still stories to be handed down to me, so I listen, I ask questions, and I get as involved as possible because I know that soon, I will be in charge of handing down those stories.

Needless to say, I write about them as well. And I hope you do the same.

No comments:

Post a Comment