Monday, October 22, 2012


It’s been said that writers usually recycle their personal stories through their work. This doesn’t suggest stagnation or the inability to move forward on the authors’ part.  It does, however, provide a convenient outlet to disentangle from past pains!

While most would agree that to have something interesting to write about, one should have witnessed or experienced something extraordinary. So how do you know if what you are penning is significant?

Author and Creative Writing Instructor, Annabelle McIlnay, frequently advised students at the Oakland Community College in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, “Write what you know.”  She encouraged essayists and novelists to tell their own stories for publication by delving into their past.  The truth is most people don’t cling to the fuzzy and warm feelings of their youth.  Painful encounters that seep out at unexpected stretches in their adult lives are what stick out in their minds.

An article in Enzine titled “Writing Memoirs” suggests, “Apart from being good writing practice, they [memoirs] help you train your critical thinking and introspection abilities. . .” The article adds, “. . . Rather than merely relay what's happening, you turn them over to see if they offer any answers to life's many questions.”

Telling one’s personal story is not for the faint-of-heart.  It takes courage to expose personal endeavors and disappointments. Yet, it can be gratifying for both the author and the reader.  Here are some pointers on writing about your past experiences:

     1)      Your memoir should include elements of purpose or conflict just as a fictional story would.

2)      If you share a painful memory, avoid using euphemisms.  State the event straight on.  To do otherwise puts the spotlight on your ineffectiveness.

3)      Be mindful of the people you speak of in your memoir and consider changing names for legal purposes.

4)      Research your history against documents and older family members.  Oftentimes the writer’s recollection-of-dates are skewed.

5)      The conclusion of your book should disclose some resolve or higher level of divine illumination.

 Have you considered publishing your personal story?

Monday, October 1, 2012


“What did your parents do?” questioned an English professor, standing in admiration of the fact I’d been published in a major magazine and had just returned from New York after guest-appearing on a TV talk show. Yet, her pointed inquiry stumped me.

Usually I’d smile with pendulum-moving eyes, while I ran through a litany of events and writers I’d met along the way. (The late Dwayne McDuffie had been the first.)  Never had I considered planted seeds as a contributing factor in my literary endeavors.

As a child, my dad and I fell into a rhythm:  He told me made-up stories and songs about furry critters and I’d listen with anticipation. My youthful mind would delight in the happy endings of each character and I’d feel sad when misfortune hit them.

Not only did the stories stick with me well into adulthood, but they framed my relationship with my father.  After all, isn’t that what writing is about?  Relationships?

My dad’s easy-going spirit oftentimes pressed me to say to him, “I wish I could be more like you!” He usually laughed, but I knew I had a wavering disposition whenever life’s challenges slapped me in the face. I’d question everything, even my love for writing.

“Tssst, tsst, you’re using too many passive sentences,” or “your main character lacks depth.” I’d hear the words and roll them over and over in my head, measuring them against my writing capabilities and shaking my fists to the walls. “Why does this have to be so darn hard?” 

I’ve since nestled comfortably in my love for writing.  I no longer question that fact. My declaration to devote a lifetime to perfecting it is what I focus on.

It’s just “life” really, when I have to regroup and adjust through the difficulties of this crazy writing business.  However, I’m steady in my quest because long ago, planted seeds became deep-rooted in my life and a big harvest is coming  . . . I can feel it.

Did someone plant seeds in your life?