Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Review and My Lifetime Story and Life Book Challenges

Anyone who sets foot in our home knows that we are a family of bibliophiles, so it only seems fitting that I should begin a series of reviews about books that may be helpful in scrapbooking, photography, digital graphics, genealogy, heritage studies and so on.

As a disclaimer, I must say that I have not actually completely read this book word for word,because it had to be returned to the library without renewing because there was a hold.  I read enough to put it on my Amazon list for future reference. Also it's not necessarily a book you read word for word, but pick up and thumb through and read sections that apply. It is a reference type book.

The Power of Memoir: How to Write Your Healing Story by Linda Joy Myers, PhD a therapist and president of the National Association of Memoir Writers, presents guidelines for sharing your own story with tips on both the technical and emotional aspects of the journey.

It will probably come as no surprise to you that I highly recommend everyone sharing their own story.  People tend to think they are boring or that no one would be interested in their lives.  But, wouldn't you want to know even a little of the daily life of your great grandparents?  I know I would treasure every bit.  Many families are blessed to have letters and even some journals, but mine was not and it has left me with many questions unanswered.  I wonder what questions my grandchildren will one day have about me?  Perhaps they or others can learn from my own mistakes and avoid them.

Furthermore, there is value in telling your story whether someone else reads it or not.  As a therapist, Ms. Myers' book touches greatly on the healing aspect of telling your story.  I often think of it like this - when I share my story with someone I trust, or write it down - I am removing a part of that pain from my body.  It's almost like a surgical extraction though truly our experiences never totally leave us, but sharing can diminish the blow. She covers extensively dealing with controversial topics and writing the truth about loved ones.

In addition to the healing aspect, which some may not agree with or feel the need to address, there are many writing prompts in the form of both topics to cover and questions.  There is advice on technique, structure and even publishing!  You can read excerpts from the book here at the author's website.

So, how does this translate into scrapbooking?  Well a lot of scrapbooking is telling a story in pictures and art, though we often fall short in the words department.  About ten years or so ago, when I was still paper scrapbooking, I was on an email list with Angie Pedersen and she challenged us not to forget ourselves in our scrapbooks.  Inevitably one person is repeatedly behind the camera telling the stories of others, but everyone is left to wonder who the mysterious camera man or woman is!  Then she wrote The Book of Me and others in the series.  These are excellent guidelines.  Perhaps I will review that book next!  You can read more from Angie on her blog.

Are you already looking to scrap your story?  Faith Sisters has an excellent serial challenge called My Lifetime Story, running in 2010.  You can find some great ideas and the challenges are left up in the forum so you can start up at anytime.  If you would like to see what others are doing, you can look here in the My Lifetime Story Challenge Gallery for great ideas.

In heritage scrapbooking we are often telling the story of someone else and piecing together from photos, documents and interviews.  The person may no longer be living and this presents more challenges.  Heritage Scrap has a serial challenge called Life Book, which is currently in its 3rd round.  This is put together and run by the lovely Victorian Rose Designs!  There is a chat at 9PM Eastern each Monday where ideas are discussed and Vicki passes out wonderful digital goodies.  You can peek in the Life Book Gallery too for some awesome ideas. I should state that the Life Book format is not only for telling the story of your ancestors but works for telling your own story as well.

Sometimes it is scary to put yourself out there or to even think about these things, but they can be blessings too.  If you read this post and feel inspired, leave me a note in the comments - and better yet a link to a gallery where you have posted your work! I look forward to hearing from you!

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