|English: An illustration of the fairy tale The Story-Teller at Fault created by John D. Batten for Joseph Jacob's collection Celtic Fairy Tales. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
It didn't matter that I really didn't have a shell collection or that the shells I had gathered might be merely left behind just as much as they might be taken home to be thrown away later. It was not what I would call patience. This was child activity that had little more meaning that it was just something to do on the day I was doing it.
Children must deal with the patience of waiting for Christmas, spending a day in a classroom, or having to sit quietly among adults. Those times are the training for the patience we must endure as the years go by. As we get older we learn the meaning of patience and master the art of tolerating tedium. Things don't always come as quickly as we'd like, but that's what we find that we must accept.
Researching our lives and the lives of others can require a great deal of patience. We must often sift through seemingly endless amounts of data and try to decide what is truly important and what is not. Usually personal data is not something you pull up easily from the internet or find through research in a library or a like place. Memoir research involves digging through closets, attics, and family albums or talking to those who know the topic.
The talking part can be where the real patience is needed most. Interviewing is an art. Your subject may know the story you are trying to learn about, but the telling sometimes does not come easily. There are side stories to distract the teller or missing chunks that may have to be filled in later. An older story teller may be talking about things that the younger listener may have no idea about. Cultural differences may complicate understanding.
Story gathering can take an enormous amount of patience. It can be fun and interesting, but sometimes every detail is not needed. And at other times we may have to continue our search to find the missing parts of the story. Then later, when it's time to sift, sort, and edit everything that's been heard, hopefully we have taken good notes and kept those notes organized.
A memoir or a biographical story can be not only an interesting experience in story gathering, but also a big job in organizing to keep the story in order. Writing a life story or episode is in many ways not unlike writing a work of fiction. The story needs to be interesting and easy to understand.
The story parts need to be gathered with affection, curiosity, and patience. Hopefully they will not end up like my shell collections left behind at the beach or discarded later. If you show your story the right amount of love, then readers will be more apt to love the story you have told.
Have you interviewed someone else to record their story or learn more about your own? Who do you find to be the best story tellers? Do you write down the interesting stories that others tell you so you can use them later?