A to Z Theme 2016

For my 2016 A to Z theme I used a meme that I ran across on the blog of Bridget Straub who first saw it on the blog of Paula Acton. This meme is a natural for me to use on my memoir blog. It's an A to Z concept and it's about me. No research and nothing complicated. I'm given twenty six questions or topics to discuss that are about me.

In April I kept my posts short and uncomplicated. In the midst of it all you might learn a few things about me that you didn't previously know.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Are You Ready for the April Challenge?

      By now you've undoubtedly seen the badge logo depicted above and read the buzz on many blogs about this upcoming Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.   If you'd like to know more about it then click the link in the preceding sentence to get details and find the Linky List.   We'd like to see a record-breaking number of sign-ups including you.  If you've never participated before then you ought to give it a try at least once.  It's far easier and less time consuming than you might think it is.

      For those of you who have already stated that you're not going to do it this year, well, we'd like to see you change your mind about that.  There's still time to go to the A to Z Blog and add your blog link to the list.  If you're worried about not having your posts done already just let that go and remember: You don't have to write fancy epic posts that are complicated and complex.  They can be short and simple just like my post today.

       You can actually say a lot in just a few words.   Be a part of the 2015 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A to Z Theme Reveal-- Elements of Memoir

     Since Wrote By Rote is a blog about memoir my Blogging from A to Z April Challenge theme will be accordingly related.  In past years I've used A to Z to tell stories specifically about my own life experiences.  This year I'll take a different approach that might be helpful to you readers who are in the process of writing a memoir or might one day consider doing so.

       My A to Z theme for 2015 will be "The Elements of Memoir".   This could of course cover many things such as the literary devices that make up a memoir.   Those devices such as voice, setting, truth, story, or interpretation are the important mechanics that deliver the memoir effectively to the reader.  However, the technical aspects are not the heart and soul of the memoir--that heart and soul are the elements I want to explore in my A to Z theme.

         In my April series I'll be looking at the types of memoir stories.  What is it that people want to read about?  What is the subject matter that makes a life what it is and unique from the stories of other lives?   We connect and relate to others and it's important to allow the readers to empathize with the stories in our lives.   Our stories should command the attention of the readers while remaining a part of the story of the human experience.

        We each have our own stories to tell to the world.  Often we don't recognize the value of our stories, but those stories have value that attract the interest of others and unless we come to understand those stories we may go through our lives with the thought, "No one would be interested in my life."

          You might be surprised at how interesting your memoir stories actually are and then maybe you will understand their value when you realize that others might enjoy hearing these stories.  My A to Z theme will assess some ideas for you to consider.

           If you'd like to join the fun in April go sign up at Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  You can find other A to Z Themes at  A to Z Theme Reveal.   Lot's of fun coming soon!  Hope you'll be joining us.

          Do you think you have life events worth telling to others?   How do you think the relatively mundane can be made more interesting?   What is a favorite memoir that you have read?


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Living the Hard Life?

I'm Certainly Living a Ragtime Life. 1900 shee...
I'm Certainly Living a Ragtime Life. 1900 sheet music cover
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

        Often when we think of memoirs, we think of people who have had struggles and difficult lives.  The heroic stories of overcoming abuse, addictions, health challenges, and other harrowing situations seem to sell books and get media attention.   But what if you've led a reasonably normal life where little that was really bad happened to you?   Is an easy regular type life worth telling others about?

       My life has been interesting by the standards that many would consider, but it's also been a very good and mostly easy life.  Oh sure, I've had some kind of bad things that have happened in my life, but in retrospect they weren't that bad.  I survived relatively intact with hurts that I've gotten over for the most part.

        Divorce is never a good thing from my point of view and I've had two of them.  I went through some tough times with those divorces, but they were nowhere near as bad as some divorce stories I've heard.  And in the end I think I came out ahead in a better circumstance after each of them.  No harrowing divorce or child custody stories there.

         So what does one do with a good life when telling the memoir story?   With the divorce stories I could dramatize them a bit more than they were, and indeed there were some dramatic story-worthy parts to those.  My life on the road is filled with stories that many might find interesting.   The years of my childhood might be worthy fodder for memoir.   The stories are there.   They always are there in any of our lives.

        The interest factor comes mostly in the telling of the stories.  There have been memoirs that I've read that by all standards should have been fascinating except the storytelling was dull and lifeless.  On the other hand I can think of some memoirs that on the surface did not seem extraordinary, but the telling of the stories was so engaging that the books had my attention throughout.   A poorly written memoir can turn a great life into a lackluster sequence of events while a well told narration can make a trip to the grocery store unique and interesting.

         My good life?  How should I tell it?   A comic approach can be very entertaining, but comedy is not so easy for all of us.   A lighthearted saga filled with hyperbole and fun anecdotes might work well.  Or maybe I should just tell it like it was in my own voice.  

         A good life doesn't have to be a boring life.

         Do you like to read well-written accounts of events that don't seem particularly eventful?   How does a book about suffering and sadness affect you?    Would you rather read about a tragic life or a happy life?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Should We Forget Our Own Past?

HBLL Family History Library (inside)
HBLL Family History Library (inside) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

       More than a few people I've known have indicated that they'd rather forget their pasts.  When broached on the subject these people might just casually slough it off or even outright reject the notion that anyone might need to know about their personal history.

         Let bygones be bygones, leave sleeping dogs lie, or let's forget about the past are sentiments that many people have expressed while so many of us want to know what happened in days gone by.  Why this disconnect and negativity about personal and family history?   Or even history in general?

           I can recall a time when I would have declared history to be one of my least favorite subjects in school.   And yet I always enjoyed reading books about historical times or seeing movies about events that happened in the past.  A favorite topic that I badgered my parents to tell me about was when they were kids or even things I had done that I had forgotten.   Somewhere along the line I realized that what I was so interested in all had to do with the past and history.  From that point of realization I no longer considered history to be my least favorite subject, but one of my great loves.

          Oh sure, the recall of dates, names, and places could be a bit tedious when tested on them, but these are all details that help to put the stories into proper perspective.   When I think back on my own past I try to accurately put dates on significant events and fill my cast of characters with the actual people with their names.   The places and people of my past tell my story bringing it to a vivid reality.

           A playbook or record of some sort of all of the people who contributed to a life story is probably a good thing to have for anyone who might be considering writing a memoir or life history.  Any epic story needs a cast of players and those characters need faces, personalities, and histories of their own.   Likewise a graphic timeline is a vital tool for visualizing the sequence of events in connection to other life events.  Then let us not forget the importance of geography when a story is related.  We may know the setting of our own story, but many others might not.

          Why is it important to remember the past and tell others about it?   For one thing it can be interesting.  Fiction after all is an imaginary history and if that is interesting to a good many people, then how much more interesting a well told true life story should be.   Also we learn from the stories of others--the successes and triumphs as well as the failures and tragedies.   We can match or model our lives against those who came before; we can avoid the mistakes they made or emulate what they did in order to find ways to make ourselves better.

         I cannot think of any good reason to forget the past.  After all the past is a part of who we are individually as well as who we are as a society.  History can answer many questions about what it is to be human.   The past can reveal some inkling as to where we are going.

         Do you like to think about your own past and that of your family lineage?    Do you think that history is a relevant subject to be taught in school?   What do you think are the most important things that the past can teach us?