So let’s record our stories
I recently discovered that one of my great-great-grandfathers was sent from England to Tasmania as a convict. His crime had been to take some bottles of wine to exchange for some rabbits. I want to know more. Did he steal because his family was hungry? What was daily life as a convict like? His profession was a gardener, his behavior was ‘exemplary’ and he was granted early release his convict term, but I want to know more. I can read the history of the time, and search more records and documents, but I also want to know what my great-great-grandfather thought, and how he felt, and what resourcefulness he drew on in creating a new life.
We take our experience and our memories with us when we move from one place to another, but we live in a time when we can choose not to take them when we die – we can leave them behind by preserving them with our pen. This why I love stories like this – because they help us know who we are, and inspire us to make the most of our life.
We can look at an old picture of a family member who we have never met, or only knew in our childhood, and wonder ‘what were they really like?’ ‘what were their thoughts and feelings?’ ‘what were their values, and their dreams?’
Well, we can answer these questions for our descendants.
A story might take the form of a letter to a grandchild, and this letter can become a family heirloom. Many of us wish our grandparents or parents had left a letter for us. About their struggles, their dreams, about their love for us. Knowing their story helps us create our own story.
Descriptive treasures like remembering where you were when you heard the news of the end of World War Two, can help descendants, and indeed readers from all walks of life, to better understand not only our forebears but also our own jigsaw of life.
You can work on your life writing stories at home, with a mentor guiding your path, and perhaps come together to celebrate and share your creativity at an annual writing workshop. To write, we need ‘a room’ or space of our own. We need to be alone and in our own little world. But when we share our stories with others, in a supportive and safe environment, the experience is both enriching and inspiring.
Participants in my workshops describe why they enjoy being part of a writing group:
I am sure you relate to these sentiments. Keep writing.