dusty ol’ box of moments

29 April 2009

I’ve been really busy with classes – one ending, with all the stories and feedback and grading that entails, and two starting – one of which is brand new.  The new class is writing memoir and family history stories, and it’s one I’ve been trying to get the college to let me teach since I started with them five years ago.  It’s the one I had in mind when I first decided to teach creative writing.   One of the strategies I’m exploring a lot in my lesson planning is how to mine our memories for meaningful stories.

It was a class in personal writing that set me on this road; where I decided that I absolutely had to help people tell their stories.  Ever since then, I’ve been thinking about the seemingly random images that reside in our memories.  The famous Cesare Pavese quote, “We don’t remember days, we remember moments,” sums it up.  When you look back upon your life, I’m betting that you will look back upon a series of moments, or “snapshots” as I call them.  One of the authors I’m reading on the topic right now calls them “shimmering images.” 

Some of those snapshots are aggressive – bellying up to the bar, front and centre of the mind, again and again like an old regular.  Then there are others that come up suddenly, seemingly unprovoked, leaving you wondering where they came from.  And others you go looking for – as you talk with old friends, or tell your kids a story from your past, or dig out that old Rod Stewart record on a rainy day. 

I’m intrigued by these inner snapshots; I think they reside in our memories for a reason.  I think we’re supposed to remember them.  And as such, I think they’re ideal inspiration for personal writers.  And that’s why I’m having my class mine them for inspiration this semester.  And why I plan to join right in, the results of which will likely be found here in this spot. 

What about YOUR snapshots?  Which ones are old hangers on?  Which ones have surprised you, as if jumping from around the hedge up ahead just when you didn’t expect it?  Like me, you may begin to collect them, as if on magical beads strung on a long silver chain, woven in and out of your consciousness.  Some are ugly and hard to look at and may need to be tucked away for another time.  However, nestled in and amongst the lovely ones, they are part of the whole story.

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