3.5. Where the Blog Really Began.

I had a personal note from nephew, Andrew, this morning thanking me for my ancient memories of his grandfather.

The blog series that began a week ago can be traced back to a light that went on shortly before January 14, 2007 when Harry Levenson, were he alive, would have had his 100th birthday.  Pop’s youngest grandchildren and oldest great grandchildren only knew him as an old man.

Motivated to write down anecdotes of my parents and their time, I felt compelled to step up my writing skills.   And my nephew’s note is the payoff for stumbling my way from noodling writer to serious hobbyist and lately, apprenticing to She Who Must Be Served, the Writing Sorceress herself.

In the Fall of ’07, still in the beginning stage of story writing, I had yet to write a single story that I judged to have three basic elements: a satisfactory beginning, middle, and end.

It occurred to me that I had memories that could be stories and that writing them might be a path.  I attended a workshop presented at the Orinda Book Store, by Thomas Larson, on the subject of memoir.   It was the kick I needed, beginning with short stories, then creative nonfiction, and currently a travel/reminiscing blog, I have finally begun to record the early days of my roots, and Tom’s little book, Memoir and the Memoirist, is still an important volume in my writing library.

I have come to realize that most people write for the exact reason that I do, i.e. the reporting and recording of the memories for the benefit of the generation coming along.   Most of us do not aspire to a bestseller list.  We’d like to be read and know the circle of readers may be as small as the extended family of friends and relatives.   We take classes and workshops, join writer’s clubs and serious critique groups, we experience the lonely thrill of writing.

Today, I am better at story beginnings, still learning how to end them, and have much to learn about how to connect the beginning to the end.   In terms of craft, every one of my writing friends is more skilled than I am.  In terms of how much effort it takes to make the tiniest gain, every one of my writing friends seems to have an easier time than I do.  In terms of how much pleasure I take from finishing a 500-word squib for my blog, no one enjoys it more.

If you have yet to let your stories out, go for it.

Your parent’s great grand children will thank you.

6 Responses to 3.5. Where the Blog Really Began.

  1. karen wittgraf says:

    Your mind is reeling with the art of writing and I know that one day soon, something big will come out of this. Does the beginning, middle, end really matter that much? Perhaps the beginning, for sure- but the end can be left as an open ended question or statement, don’t you think? I look forward to your posts because of that great descriptive quality you have….I now think I may have lived in New Jersey. You have made your father and his garden and store that real to me. Thanks.

  2. Anne Fox says:

    Yes, wonderfully real and vivid writing, real voice, real spirit, real heart, real story. Do I detect occasional lacunae in the mechanics of the writing that require blame to be cast on a certain college English teacher of yore?

  3. Great stuff, AL. Thanks!

  4. john miller says:

    Poetry to my grandfather: Colombian Recall
    My grandfather always
    rode a bicycle
    And when he died, le left
    me his pant clips.
    Somewhere I have lost
    them as I board
    the buses of Bogota.
    A gardener was his profession;
    A school janitor, his title.
    I sow the seeds of ideas;
    my field is the classroom

    Camels was his brand,
    An infernal stomach cancer,
    his demise.
    Stories of railroad days
    and army posts
    rose from those
    smokey lips
    to fill my waiting ears.

    The phone call came from afar.
    I never could say goodbye.
    And to the darkened Colombian sky
    I cry my last rites. (1995)

  5. JSib says:

    Hi Al, Just saying hello. I like your idea of writing family stories. I’ve got mother to write the history of her Great Gdpa’s and Grandparent’s furniture which I will tape to the bottom of the pieces I have inherited. Not exactly a literary effort but still they are words written. Anyway have a good and interesting time out there wondering heither and yon. Friend Jim

  6. Most of my fiction is disguised memoir. No surprise to other writers. I am in the process of finding the opening handle of pure memoir. Just got it!

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