Saturday, March 25, 2006

My Mother's Contributions to My Stories

If our parents and grandparents have told us stories about their childhoods, it’s interesting to weave those incidents into tales of our own. This may be simply retelling these stories for our family heritage and future generations. If we’re writers, these give us fodder for our story mill.

I’ve incorporated many of the incidents from my mom’s life into stories, cooking columns, and essays. For instance, she fell through the ice on the pond near their one-room school, sliding at recess. I used this incident and Mother’s rescue by her sister in my story, The Christmas Surprise. Although my mom and aunt aren't the characters in this story, the ice rescue scene incorporates some of the ideas from Mother's recollection.

In my middle reader novel, Papa Goes to War, the falling through the ice idea appears again. This time, the younger brother, Josh, walks onto thin ice, and his sister, Mandy, tries to save him. This varies somewhat from Mother’s experience. However, if I’d never heard her story, repeatedly, throughout my childhood, I wouldn’t have the idea or knowledge to write about this incident.

Even though we may not think your family life and your experiences enter into your writing, they do in subtle ways. Just your knowledge of situations and topics enable you to write the stories you do.

So look over your life and jot down ideas for stories and articles.