Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Entry # 177 - "Looking Back & Writing Forward"

Honolulu - Photo Credit - Jim Wilson - Sept. 24, 2013
In our Tuesday Journal & Memoir Writing Class this week, we talked about possible sources that help us shore up partial memories and get at events that have had an impact upon us as writers and as people. And this we decided: if you wish to move forward to develop a piece of writing, you need to spend some time looking back over the past at incidents and people.  Whether your writing efforts are focused on creative nonfiction or fiction, exploring the power of the past is essential. But what sources are essential and readily available for research?

Ideas for journal & memoir writings can come from both personal and public sources that will enrich and provide additional depth. And although we do have more access to information than previous generations, here is a reminder of some sources worth exploring.
Hawaii - Photo Credit - Alex Dunn - Sept. 24, 2013
Personal Sources
Talk with people who have a perspective to share. 
1. Memory – yours & others who shared events with you. Listen & take notes.
2. Family Possessions, Furniture and items passed down. Find the story behind these.
3. Journals – diaries & family writings, photographs, deeds, land records.
4. Family Bibles – hold birth & death notes and handwriting records from the past.
5. Baby Books & Photo Albums -- boxes of old photographs, movies, videos.
6. Boxes of old Letters and Papers – Estate Items - from your family or others.
7. Report Cards, Yearbooks, Magazines and Newspaper clippings.

Public Sources 
Examine public information specific to a particular time or event.
Information is easily obtained from numerous public documents, Internet searches, libraries.

1.  Documents -- deeds, land records, marriage records, birth & death certificates,
     diplomas, dated items of any kind, such as: bills of sale – for cars or other items.
2.  Newspapers and Magazines of a particular time and place.
3.  Old Movie clips and radio show recordings
4.  Libraries (Talk with experienced librarians. They know amazing things!)
5.  Interview family, old friends, neighbors, baby-sitters, and even enemies and the gossips.
Honolulu - Photo Credit - Jim Wilson - Sept. 24, 2013
As you focus upon a particular time and place for the creative writing efforts, gather suitable source materials.  If you gather too much at first that’s okay.  As your vision for your writing project sharpens, you will find sources that will help your work resonate the literal and spiritual truth at its core.  As you write, rewrite and shape your material, you will decide at some point what to keep and what is excess to be jettisoned or used in another writing.        - REMEMBER -
"History is nothing more than a thin slice of what is remembered, stretched out over an ocean of what has been forgotten."  
 ----Milan Kundera

About Jan Bowman
Jan Bowman’s fiction has appeared in numerous publications including, Roanoke Review, Big Muddy, The Broadkill Review, Third Wednesday, Minimus, Buffalo Spree (97), Folio, The Potomac Review, Musings, Potato Eyes and others. Glimmer Train named a recent story as Honorable Mention in the November 2012 Short Story Awards for New Writers. Winner of the 2011 Roanoke Review Fiction Award, her stories have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, Best American Short Stories, a Pen/O’Henry award and a recent story was a finalist in the 2013 Phoebe Fiction Contest; another was a 2012 finalist in the “So To Speak” Fiction Contest. She is working on two collections of short stories while shopping for a publisher for a completed story collection. She has nonfiction publications in Trajectory and Pen-in-Hand. She writes a weekly blog of “Reflections” on the writing life and posts regular interviews with writers and publishers.   Learn more at or

No comments:

Post a Comment