Almost 12 years ago when I was bullied into writing my first story by Phyllis my mentor, I had no idea what an adventure it would be and where it would lead me. Those who don’t write or journal will not understand what a joy it is to do either one.
I think someone that keeps a journal may find some of the same joy, but I don’t know if they go back and examine their life before the day they are writing about, but that is the adventure that writing my stories has been.
How can you remember so much that happened when you were a kid? That is the question I get asked a lot, and the answer is simple. Once you start to write about one memory another one will always pop into your head.
When a memory pops into my head I will take a minute to jot down a title or at least a short sentence in my little notebook that I always carry. That simple sentence will pull it back into my memory when I start the story at a later date.
I may have up to 15 titles started in my documents file on the computer at any time, just waiting for me to get started on them. I may go to them every now and then when I have a thought and have access to my computer and put it down.
If I am away from home, I will add the thought to the notebook and then add it later to the computer file. At the last reunion I got the notebook out several times to jot down a thought and I would receive a worried look from some of the classmates. I am sure they were wondering if they were to be included in a story and what I might say.
Over the 12 years I’ve had the pleasure of getting back in touch with a lot of people that I hadn’t talked to since I was a child or in high school. It has been a blessing to get to know these people again and to find out what they can tell me about their loved one or about the story I am writing at the time.
I have reconnected with half a dozen teachers and it has been a great learning experience to get their perspective on the memory I am writing about. There have been some real surprises. When I thought they were picking on me because they didn’t like me was usually just the opposite. Go figure!! I am sure every kid thinks the teacher hates them but it is just a façade that they have to keep in place to treat each student the same.
I always try to get in touch with the person I am writing about and have them read the story to be sure there is nothing in it that is wrong and they are comfortable with having their name printed.
If possible I like to email the story to them so they can proof it, because there are a lot of my classmates and people from my hometown that see the stories. They have always been very positive about the stories and once or twice even had facts to add that I didn’t remember until they mentioned it.
When I wrote about the typing class, I talked to Mr. Martin and asked him who the kid was that was always sabotaging the typewriter and he didn’t hesitate a second, he knew right away and told me the name. It was a kid I didn’t even remember being in the class until he mentioned him. What a memory he has to remember one boy after all the kids that went through his class over the years.
The chemistry teacher, Mr. Keener didn’t have email and didn’t get the chance to proof the story, but just told me he would trust me. He didn’t get back in touch with me when he received his papers (I always try to send enough papers for the whole family) and I thought for over a year that he didn’t like the story or that he was mad about something in the story.
I ran into Mr. Keener at the funeral of Mr. Chadd (the teacher who introduced me to baseball,) and we talked for awhile. He told me he loved the story and had made copies and mailed them to lots of people. I was sure glad to hear that. Even though I’m an adult I didn’t want my teacher mad at me.
Some times it is a real adventure just to find the people I am writing about or their relatives, but I do have a source. A gal from our home town, Jeanne Carson, is in charge of finding and keeping in contact with all the alumni from our school.
If they are out there Jeanne will know where they are and how I can get in touch with them. She has made it possible for me to get in touch with numerous children and grandchildren of my subjects that I didn’t even know existed.
I have become friends with Grandma Pitt’s granddaughter, who is a published author, and lives here in Kansas. She told me lots of things I didn’t know about Grandma Pitts. She has encouraged me to put all my stories in a book, but I haven’t gotten my nerve up to go down that path. It is a real undertaking to take that step both financially and logistically.
I am still amazed that I am writing, and it still surprises me when someone recognizes me and tells me they read and enjoy my stories. I just put them out there and think that no one reads them I guess; that it is just an exercise for the joy of writing. To contact Sandy: firstname.lastname@example.org