Life writing about birth
Writing about the day you were born can be tricky because we have to rely on the stories - and truth - of others.
Unless, that is, you've had some kind of regression therapy that has taken you back to the magic moment you emerged into the world.
In my first life writing workshop on 15 February, we'll be looking at the day of our birth, the stories handed down by family about that auspicious occasion, what was going on just before, or after, and what might have been happening in the family during the weeks preceding our debut to the world.
There's no doubt that in the telling, a bit like Chinese whispers, facts are embellished, or neglected and forgotten - but dig deep enough and you'll uncover some interesting truths. For example, a friend of mine found out, as an adult, that on the day she was born, contrary to what she'd always been told, her Dad had not been at her Mum's bedside as she gave birth. Instead he was down at the pub, drinking beer and watching football. The tale he'd always told, about witnessing his daughter's birth with such overwhelming emotion, was completely false and he'd been so drunk after an afternoon of beer that his mates brought him home laid out over the back of a pushbike. Why had my friend's Mum never revealed the truth?
The story I've always heard about the hours before my birth was this: Mom and Dad were living in Seattle, Washington USA and it was high summer in July. They'd been to a picnic with friends, returned home and Mom got stomach pains. She thought it was due to some watermelon she'd had at the party when in fact, it was me. I was born without a single strand of hair on my head.
Smooth as a watermelon skin.
In my workshop we'll be looking at our parents too - what are their stories?
My Mom was adopted, and never knew her birth parents. Her brother, my uncle Bob, was adopted too and decided to investigate his heritage. He offered to research Mom's as well but she declined, saying her adoptive parents had been so wonderful she had no desire to learn of others.
We'll also look at our names: why did our parents choose these particular ones for us? My siblings and I are all named after ancient ancestors on Mom's side: old sea captains and local folk who lived in Mom's hometown of Fernandina Beach, Florida. The family saga is a fascinating one, imbued with delightful southern humour and no small dose of engaging history.
So join me on Saturday 15 February as we delve into some of those stories of the day we came into the world, tales of family and maybe a few skeletons to rattle in the cupboards, writing about truths that are indeed, stranger than fiction.
What are your writing goals for the new year?
Finish the romance novel languishing in the bottom drawer ... tackle the blank pages of the gorgeously bound journal you bought last year and have been waiting for just the right moment to fill ... start pounding the keys for a thriller or supernatural horror story...
Whatever it may be, the advice is simple: get writing.
Is it that easy?
Sure it is - and with the renewed energy and enthusiasm that infuses us at the start of a new year (and in this case, a new decade), starting may be easier than ever.
If you're wanting to do some life writing, join me for my life writing series in February - three Saturdays in a row of inspiring and motivating workshops with a small number of other writers (up to six) that will get you thinking about, and writing, those important life stories.
If you're needing some help to get started on an idea or project, then I can offer you my 25/45 special, with 45 minutes of conversation for just $25. We'll talk about your project and think of some ways to get that writing under way.
Summer weather and holidays offer time out to ponder, look up and look down, relax and recharge, so be sure to keep your notebook handy and jot down those thoughts and ideas as they filter through the sunshine, warm gentle breeze, and sounds of waves on the sand. Best to capture them at the time, because they might only knock once or twice, and then they'll pass you by, heading off to find someone else who will listen ...
Connect with other writers over long leisurely lunches, cafe coffees, BBQs in the garden. Spend time talking, bouncing ideas around, comparing process, what works and what doesn't. You can't beat the supportive camaraderie of other writers hanging out together.
Establish a good writing routine now and stick to it. I work best in the mornings and find it's helpful to renew my writing routines each year during the warmer summer months when the sun rises early, so when winter comes with its dark mornings, I'm already in the habit of getting up and at it.
Most of all, find that joy in writing, the excitement that comes with creating and sharing. Sure, it's hard work, and sometimes it feels like little more than that, but the rewards are great. When you're creating, you're doing what you love - and what can be better than that?
Go for it. It's a new year and a new chapter.