Wednesday, January 27, 2010

WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW



Write what you know. What do we know better than our own stories, our own lives?

Recently, I overheard two little boys sitting on a bench outside a market. “I don’t think Mama and Daddy had video games when they were little,” one said to the other.

Kids wonder about what life was like for parents and grandparents. If your children or your grandchildren were gathered around you waiting to hear about what life was like when you were a child, what would you tell them?

Spend a week at Orchard House on the John C. Campbell Folk School campus in Brasstown, NC writing the stories of your life.


In 1998, I published a family history chronicling the lives of my grandfather and each of my ten aunts and uncles. They were not famous people. Just simple men and women who lived in the early twentieth century, who endured hardships and triumphs, and who will be forever remembered by future generations because their stories have been recorded in this book.

Since then, I’ve been writing and collecting incidents and stories about my own life. An example is Tar, Tallow and Prayer, which tells how a home remedy saved my baby sister’s life. My Mother’s Reunion is a humorous story of the time we crashed another family’s reunion.

In my writing classes students aren’t expected to be experienced writers.

Besides exploring our lives for stories, we learn to use the five senses to draw the reader into our work. We learn to use strong verbs, to avoid overused adjectives. We help cut out the fat, the extra verbiage, and show how to use historical events to place a story in time. We learn how to entertain and enlighten our audience, to tell true stories using the same components as good fiction.

A former student said this: What was so special about your class is that you created a harmony among strangers that evolved almost immediately into a group connection of respect, joy and genuine warmth and understanding. I believe every one of my classmates is a beautiful and courageous writer. … as you had us read our stories we were able to glimpse and appreciate the depth and the diverse culture of their fascinating lives.

We have openings for Leave a Written Legacy, February 21 – 27, at John C. Campbell Folk School, but registration must be made by January 29.

Anyone living in Clay, Cherokee, or Graham counties in NC or Towns, Union, and Fannin counties in Georgia, receive half price tuition. Call 1-800-365-5724 or click on http://www.folkschool.org/ and register online.

Local number is 828-837-2775.

Contact Glenda Beall, writerlady21@yahoo.com for more information.

3 comments:

Nancy Simpson said...

Glenda, This is a class I recommend. In fact, it's posted on my site.

Your picture of Orchard House makes me want to drive right over to the folk school.

karenh said...

I know that Glenda is a fabulous teacher and person, so I know the class will be great. Also the Folk School is great!

Glenda said...

Yes, I love Orchard House for the writing classes. It is a cozy and homey environment for students to relax and explore their creativity.

You know, although I say this class is for beginning students, all who like to write memoir and non-fiction will enjoy spending a week in this quiet and beautiful retreat, writing whatever they like.