I love the way the exercises draw out more and more memories…. I feel like I am being transported back to that time. – Caitlin, Participant
It was delightful that the class had an international flavor – it was such a powerful reminder of the universality of human experiences and concerns. – Participant
I liked that it showed me things about myself. And I liked the freedom of only having to “report in” once every 3 weeks… I was able to fit the course around work. – June, Participant
I don’t know if I said this or just thought it, but I feel that ‘writing’ my life is also like ‘righting’ my life – setting it out before me, so I can look at and understand the reason for decisions I have made throughout the years I have been writing about.
I am so enjoying remembering. Sometimes it is so hard when you look through a decade, to find the pivotal moments. But often it’s not the pivotal moments that provide the essence of the time or even your own experience. Sometimes it’s just remembering what we wore, or describing the car or the radio, or the house, that gives the decade colour. I feel in many of my stories, I have been more sweeping than specific, and I notice that the specific is right. My work is more enjoyable to write – and read – when I remember the small things.
On a wider note, I have made some interesting family discoveries, like the influence dad probably had on my career choice – just because he was interested in the news. And my rebellion – I’d always thought it was being a teenager, but a lot of it was my only way to get away from the circumstances that surrounded me. – Jan, Participant
I don’t know what needs to be altered for other participants. For me, I find that once I start writing, I forget the time and overdo it. On the other hand, people seeing ‘write for one and a half hours’ might be put off. I think it’s about right. – Participant
Letter to a friend about the course (an exercise)
I have been doing a life story writing course for several months. Doing the exercises has immersed me in events and stages of my life. There were times when I met myself, sometimes as I was, sometimes as I am, and I could see continuing themes and meanings in my life. Sometimes I came up on my own rigidities and evasions, things I don’t like about myself or that I refuse to acknowledge.
Listening to other participants’ stories on the phone was a wonderful experience – finding out how much there is in common between many of us, also discovering how different our lives can be. The people I met showed some of the lovely things they have made of their lives, even of difficult parts, and great generosity to others and they inspire me to go further into living.
I approached the lessons with curiosity and openness. Discovering what I’d not thought about for years and looking at it afresh was warming – stepping into my own skin.
I missed a couple of the conference calls and the kindling of motivation that they provoke. Hearing and mentally seeing the sparks of other people’s lives, being momentarily absorbed in their worlds, seeing through their eyes joys, sadnesses and struggles, constantly reminded of their strength and sensing the back and forth between life lived, life recounted and the narrative of meaning woven between these are things I shall miss. – Participant 2009