Bring memories back to mind by remembering the daily objects in your life.
My memoir writing has taken a back seat for awhile, but the time has come to move on with it again. About a year ago I started writing my memoir about school life in New Zealand in the 1950s, with the thought in mind that 2013 is the centenary year for the school I attended. Some of you may have read my first article on memoir, Thoughts on Writing Memoir, written about a year ago, as well as a few subsequent articles, some listed at the end of this page.
I’ve written several thousand words on the school memoir, but writing came to a halt when I returned to work full time for six months. Now, with only fifteen months until the centenary, it is time to get serious. I am back writing memoir again and the break seems to have heightened my memories. You see, even though I wasn’t writing, I was definitely thinking about the project and talking to family members and friends to recall memories.
Getting back on task, I realised I had discovered a valuable memoir writing tool. Memoir writing has to be interesting enough for others to want to read it, and filled with enough detail to have others say, ah yes, I remember that too. To bring these pictures to mind, I started recalling objects that had played an important part in my schooling, simple every day objects, but each with their own stories to tell. After all, those of my generation will all have their own memories of chalk, nib pens and ink, early reading books, and numerous other classroom resources.
Whether the stories recalled are humorous, sad, painful or even motivating, if told in the right way, using enough description and the right words, these objects can bring memoir writing to life. Objects may be inanimate, but if they were important enough for you to notice them in the first place and remember after all this time, they are important enough to add some colour to your memoir.
As you write your anecdotal stories for your memoir, make a list of several objects, large or small, that you connect to that story. Take each object, one at a time and picture it in your mind. Imagine where it was placed in relation to your story. Maybe it was your mother’s favourite vase sitting on the dresser that you accidentally broke one day. Maybe it was the new dress your sister wore, or your family car. Whatever, play around with the object in your mind. recall as many visions and memories of it as you can. Write down all your memories about each object and any related stories that come to mind as you record your thoughts. The more you explore past images of these ideas, the more memories will come flooding back to you.
Pic: My neighbour and I aged 4 – how come his car was better than mine?
And of course, it’s not just memories of objects that will help memory recall, but photographs of family and other special events in your life. Consider your first bicycle as you stand beside it in the photo. Remember, the physical things first – its colour, size, make and then start thinking about you felt when you received it. That will lead you in to remembering lots of things that you did on your bike, places you went, things that happened.
For me, a receiving back a precious box of books and records from my childhood brought back lots of memories. Yo can do the same. Whether you intend writing them for publication or simply to share with others close to you, they are worth preserving. Everyday activities from your childhood may seem commonplace to you, but in fifty years from now your grandchildren and great grandchildren may be asking, what were things like when you were a child. Life will be so different in the future that the past is worth preserving.
Memoir articles and stories include:
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