I fancy myself a writer.

Posts tagged “Memoir

Exploring my writing roots at 2 a.m. on a Saturday morning

A picture of my Grandma Webster

I dug all through my digital photo albums looking for a picture of Grandma Webster, and this is the only one I could find. I need to remedy that!

Have I ever told you about my writing roots? I feel like I haven’t, and that’s odd, because you would think that would be a natural topic of discussion on a writing blog, right? At any rate, storytelling seems to be embedded in my genes, as much as my early graying hair and the extra fat that I tend to carry around in my gut. Those are a few of the things I get from my mom’s side (along with some good things, too, don’t get me wrong.) But, the storytelling gene runs strong on my dad’s side of the family.

My dad’s paternal grandfather – my great grandfather – Ralph Webster, is a bit of a legend in our family. It is said that he could pick up any musical instrument and hear any song one time and play the song on that instrument. The accordion was his chosen instrument, but his voice was a major talent as well; one that he often put to good use spinning yarns for anyone who cared to listen.

Oral storytelling is a popular pastime in that branch of my family tree. My father is no exception. Many a family wedding photo has captured my dad gesticulating largely as he tells one of his stories that never fail to hold his audience in thrall. Not only does he tell fabulous stories of the hilarity that seems to ensue in his daily life, but he is also a connoisseur of family history. His brain is a magical treasure trove of stories that beg to be written down for posterity, but he’s not one to spend time sitting down to write. (more…)


At some point, you just have to start writing again

I’ve been trying to pick up my writing practice again since I brought my son home from the hospital a few weeks ago. The day of Corbin’s accident, my writing activities came to a screeching halt. For the first week or so after the accident, I was in complete shock. I could barely function, and I couldn’t think past the “right now.” I lived in the moment in a way that I don’t remember ever doing before. Family members brought me books to read, coloring books to scribble in, and yarn to crochet with. I couldn’t concentrate on any of it.

After that first week, my brain began to thaw, but I still couldn’t concentrate on anything important. I picked up a crochet hook and some of the yarn that my aunt sent and got my hands busy. Crocheting is good for my anxiety. My favorite pattern involves counting to ten over and over and over again, and I find it strangely soothing. Maybe it’s my OCD.

crochet afghan

This is the afghan I started crocheting while we were in the hospital. I finished it a few days ago.

I tried to at least pick up my journal to chronical the days during our five weeks in the hospital, but even that couldn’t hold my attention for more than a minute here and there. Most days, I would spend my mornings waiting for the doctors to do their rounds so I could listen in when they got to Corbin. In the afternoon, I would lay down and take a nap. My days revolved around catching the doctors on rounds, ordering room service, and counting down the hours until naptime and bedtime. (It’s no wonder I gained ten pounds while we were living in the hospital!) (more…)


An update on my “semi-famous” son

My son and I were invited to attend the Homecoming kickoff assembly at his high school Monday morning. While he’s not officially back to school yet (It will be another month before we find out when the doctor will release him to return to class,) he enjoyed stopping by the school and soaking up his fifteen minutes of celebrity status in front of the entire student body. Here’s a video:

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Before and after life turns on a dime

before the accident

My handsome son before the accident.

It’s true what they say about life and dimes. Two weeks ago, plus one day, my life was turned into a violent tailspin when my sixteen-year-old son was hit by a semi-truck while riding his bike.

So many things went right that morning, despite the great and horrible wrong that landed us where we are today. The driver of the truck stopped and helped my son rather than hitting him and driving away. Local first responders arrived on the scene in record time and rushed my son to the closest emergency room. A helicopter crew then took my son quickly to another hospital in a nearby city where a first-rate neurosurgeon literally saved his life.

I was later told that my son would be dead if everyone hadn’t reacted so swiftly. If even one person had faltered that day, I might be in mourning right now rather than living in a hospital, watching my son make miniscule yet amazing improvements each and every day. (more…)


Creative nonfiction writing exercise: Your name

As I mentioned in my last post, I am going to be doing a lot of writing this semester in my creative nonfiction course. I am working my way through my first reading assignment and am already coming across small writing exercises that I would like to share with you. This post might turn into a series!

This is my sisters and me. I'm the oldest.

This is my sisters and me. I’m the oldest.

Writing Exercise

For today’s creative nonfiction writing exercise, you will write two paragraphs about your name. The first paragraph should be strictly objective, while the second should be more subjective. In other words, the first paragraph will contain facts about your name. The second will tell what it is like to be YOU while wearing the mantel of your particular name. Here’s an example from Writing True: The Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction: (more…)


I dreamed I rode my horse

English: Eye of horse.

English: Eye of horse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night, I dreamed I was riding my old horse, Ruby, who’s been gone now for at least a decade. She’s a flighty old nag even in my dreams. Ruby had this annoying habit of flopping her head backward constantly, which always left me with the fear of being head-butted as I rode her. Once her son, Stormy, was old enough, I usually chose to ride him instead when I had the option.

In my dream, I was riding Ruby along a country road, and she kept throwing her head back at me as she always did. Up ahead, several other horses milled about on either side of the road. They perked their ears up as we drew closer, and Ruby grew increasingly agitated. Unfamiliar horses always made her nervous. I too grew anxious, clamping my fists around the reins in an effort to maneuver her past the other horses without incident. (more…)


My Final Paper | Teaching Life Writing as a Life Skill: Normalizing the Deviant Self via Personal Narrative

I finally finished the class I was taking this semester and turned in my 22-page final paper on Thursday. Yay! While I shared several of my earlier papers here on my blog throughout the semester, this paper is just way too long for that. So, I decided to see this as an opportunity to explore a new (to me) publishing platform that I had previously only used for reading: Scribd.

It turns out, Scribd is super easy to use. You can embed your documents right into your blog as I have done above so your readers don’t even have to leave your website! You can also charge people to read your documents on the Scribd website. I’m not going to do that with this paper, though. You may feel free to read it here in tiny text, or click through to the Scribd website or app to read it for free at your leisure! (more…)


I’m suffering a little spring nostalgia

I’m feeling a little sad today. The redbud trees are slowly beginning to exchange their flowers for leaves. It may have been cool this week, but summer will soon overpower my favorite season, and we’ll be wilting in the sultry steam of a central Illinois summer.

This time of year always reminds me of my Grandma Webster who passed away just over nine years ago now. I was pregnant with my younger son when Grandma left us, so I will always be able to recall just how long she has been gone.

When I was a kid, I used to sneak down the hill by Grandma’s house with a pair of scissors and cut a few twigs of blooming rosebuds to surprise her with. Every time, she showed her appreciation for the gesture as if it was the first time. She had a way of making every single one of her grandchildren – so many of us now, I’ve lost count – believe ourselves to be her favorite. To this day, I am still fairly confident that I was Grandma’s favorite. But then again, so is everyone else!

redbud tree

The redbud trees are in bloom all over central Illinois right now, but they won’t last long.

Another treasured spring memory is a composite of all of the times I went mushroom hunting with my grandma in the woods by her house. Morels are plentiful in the woods of my homeland this time of year. When I was a kid, it seemed as though everyone I knew made a mass exodus into the local woodlands to search for this delectable treat. For a few short weeks, we’d have fried mushrooms for breakfast, and then again as a side dish at lunch and dinner. Unfortunately, I’ve never been any good at finding them myself. (more…)


Annotated Bib: “Creative Transcendence: Memoir Writing For Transformation And Empowerment.”

Diana Raab

Diana Raab (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week’s Annotated Bibliography entry reviews an article by Diana Raab, a researcher and memoir writer who explores “the transformative and empowering dynamics of writing a memoir in connection with transcendent/pivotal experiences.” You may view the full text here.

Annotated Bib Entry

Raab, Diana. “Creative Transcendence: Memoir Writing For Transformation and Empowerment.” Journal Of Transpersonal Psychology 46.2 (2014): 187-207. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.

In this article, Raab discusses a study she conducted in which she examined the works of five writers who have written at least one book-length memoir. The purpose of this study was to determine the impact on the participants of writing about events that have transformed their lives. Participants were chosen who had 1) written at least one memoir that was prompted by the occurrence of a pivotal or transformative event in their lives, and 2) reported that writing a memoir about the inciting incident(s) provided additional transformative and empowering experiences for the writer. Individual stories were analyzed in an effort to identify their similarities and differences. (more…)


My son, the writer

Avery's book project

My son is working on this book project for school. He wants to publish his story when it is done.

My 8-year-old is writing a book for a competition at his school. Yesterday, he brought his notebook to town with him so he could work on his project while we waited for my cracked windshield to be repaired. He likes to use waiting room time constructively and always brings something to read or work on.

At one point, my son stopped to ask me to list all the foods I cook for dinner that “he really really likes a lot” (I could only think of tacos.) You see, he is doing a life writing piece and couldn’t remember what we’d had for dinner on a particular day he was describing, but he could remember it was something he liked a lot.

Since I wasn’t much help, he finally said, “I’ll just use tacos,” and got on with it. He didn’t let himself get hung up on that insignificant detail but instead chose something that acted as a fair representation of the truth. This is an essential concept to keep in mind when writing nonfiction, which many readers consider to be completely “true.” Sometimes obsessing over getting a tiny detail just right is counterproductive. There comes a time when you need to just come up with a fair representation and get on with it. (more…)