El Salvador might be a long way from Ukraine, but the tenacity of the people and their determination in a conflict zone certainly has its similarities.
As a writer and storyteller, I thought this might be the best way I could make a small contribution. Please note that it's only set up for people in Australia. In other countries I'm sure there are local Red Cross or Red Crescent initiatives, or other NGOs that you can support for Ukraine.
A big shout out to Red Cross and Red Crescent for the great work they do in conflict zones, and with displaced/refugee people.
I hear it often. Wanting to write your own memoir, or life story, but not sure where to start. Here's a tip. Instead of staring at the blank page, wondering where to start, and feeling overwhelmed, why not start writing a personal profile -- an overview of your story in 1000 to 3000 words. And if you can't write it yourself, get someone to write it, or help you write the piece. It's amazing what emerges -- a spark, ideas, a theme, a voice, structure, or even style or tone.
I've been collaborating with a couple of business women lately, and it's worked for both of them, even though the story each of them wants to tell is about much more than their respective businesses.
Text and image copyright Michele Gierck
If you enjoy reading memoirs, or if you are learning all you can about them, (perhaps even threatening to write one), this is a book you'll want to make sure you get your hands on. I've just finished it for the first time. Feel like I need to read it again, because I was so delighted with the story and the way it was written, the way words and images melded into amazing descriptions, that I charged through it.
One of Mary's lines at the end of the book says a lot about the effect this first memoir of hers has had on readers. 'Reading Liars' Club seemed to crowbar open something in people.' I can totally understand why.
I happened to discover this wonderful book, published in 2015, in the it's-yours-for-free box at the local library. Just proves that one library's trash is another person's treasure.
Here's one of my favourite quotes. 'In fact, every memoirist I know seems doomed to explore the past in an often-agonized death march down the page.'
Hope you get a chance to at least read the Preface. It's a classic.
Creative Writing: How to Start -- How to Take that First Step
So you want to write your story.Wondering where to begin?
Here’s three questions to get you going. Take time to consider them.
1) If you were to choose six parts of your life to write about -- they could be events, experiences, life stages, transitions or times when you've learnt something significant – what would those six things be?
2) Why do you now feel the urge to write? Is it because you promised yourself you would before you turned 30,50,60 or 75? Is it because you want to hand stories down to family members? Or to reflect on your journey so far? Is it to tell the story of others through your eyes? Or perhaps just to let your creative self flourish, and see what emerges?
3) Who would you like the audience for your writing to be? Are you writing it for anyone in particular? Or just for yourself? Would you like it published?
Once you’ve answered the questions, write down the six things you want to write about. And then write about them! It's okay if you only write a paragraph on each. Or you could write pages and pages.
Then, once you've got that writing done, take a good look at it. Then put it down, leave it for a bit. And look again. What are the threads that are common to each of the six pieces? What might hold them together? What would you like to replace or add?
This might give you an idea of what you really want to write.
And at least it's given you a starting point.
The rest of your writing could easily develop from this.
Rather than pressuring yourself to write a book, you might consider writing an overview piece that links the pieces you’ve written. Or perhaps you'd prefer to write on one of the pieces that just seems to grab you.
You never quite know what’s going to happen once you start on your own personal writing adventure… So, be brave, be creative, and allow the story to emerge.
Go for it!
ps. for all those who say they can't write, then speak it, record it, and get hold of some apps or technology that types it up for you! (See, there's no excuse not to write.)
pps. You won't believe how good for your health writing can be!
Text and Image copyright Michele Gierck
Michele Gierck is author of 700 Days in El Salvador, Fraying: Mum, memory loss, the medical maze and me, and co-author of Peter Kennedy: the man who threatened Rome.
Michele's website: www.michelegierck.com.au
Michele is a member of The Australian Society of Authors.
Writing your own story can be like scaling a mountain. It takes a lot of effort. Lots and lots. Along the way there will be times when you chug along; times when you sweat it out; and moments when the peak seems so far off in the distance that giving up seems more than reasonable. (My attempt scaling Mount Aspiring in NZ springs to mind.) Here's some ideas to get you going -- writing not mountaineering.
Thinking about the following questions before you depart, might be one way to ensure you make it to the mountain top. (Or help you figure out, before expending loads of energy, that it's not for you.)
If you're thinking of embarking on that journey -- of autobiography, biography or memoir -- here's some questions that might help.
1) Do you really want to do this?
2) Why do you really want to do this?
3) Who is your audience; who are you writing for?
4) Which voice do you want this written in?
5) Am I happy to do this even if it's not a best seller? Or published by a major publishing house? Or I have to self-publish?
6) If I could only tell six stories/scenarios/scenes or reflectionss, which ones would they be?
7) Why do those six stories/scenarios/scenes or reflections stand out? Are they linked?
ps It's quite normal to change your answers as you venture along the writing track.
I hope this helps.
Remember, nearly every book, whether for the family or the wider world, starts as an idea and a blank page!