Saturday, October 11, 2014

Family Storytelling



It is looking like full-blown autumn here, inside and out. The rain set in yesterday…last night...and more is coming. This morning it was so dark I overslept for me. The deck was wet and the air rested at a damp 49 degrees. While I brewed the tea, Miss Biscuit looked at me forlornly. “Yes, I know, our tea time is not the same inside.”

This week I have baked apples, baked beans, bake a pie (that we should not have), hungered for cookies, and have recipes laid out for soup. The oven is on more now. I feel my insides pulling inwardly like overdone custard pulling away from the pan sides. I shrivel a little in this weather knowing winter will come; my body knows what is coming and preparing. No, not yet please!

It does feel like writing weather though. I have sticky notes all over my desk as scenes and conversations come to my mind. No time to write them at moment what with fighting Social Security (a story you do not want to hear!) and other things happening. However, I want to save these glimpses of story for dark winter mornings when maybe I can hammer them out on the keyboard before dog and man arise each day.

Yesterday, my cousin came through town and spent many hours with us. It has been a couple of years since I saw him last, but before that it was decades. Slightly younger than I, he shared my family on Dad’s side. For long while we only lived a block apart. Then I married and moved away while he joined the Air Force during the Vietnam years and traveled the world.

Of course, our favorite subject to hash out is our shared and often dysfunctional family. Now we are old enough to piece together the scenes and events of our childhood, seeing them from a distance of what we hope is fairness and wisdom. We are now at an age where it is comforting to know someone who knows us from our past, who can share memories. I think there are lots of seeds for story from my family!

I have been searching my family history hunting answers for what makes us who we are. Although I still hunger for answers I have not found yet, I have found good writing topics in these people I never met. That is what I like about writing fiction. I can have a seed or an experience or even just a feeling from my life, and if I don’t know all the facts, why I just make them up! Sadly I can’t share most of these particular family inspired stories with my family because while they are fiction, people will most assuredly recognize themselves…and not be happy!


So when you write about family inspired events, how honest do you tell the story? How do you deal with your family’s response to your writing? Are they happy with your tales…or do they even know?

10 comments:

Marylin Warner said...

Claudia, this is a compelling, poignant post. You have some beautifully phrased details--"my insides pulling inwardly like overdone custard pulling away from the pan sides"--that tell me your writing voice and ideas are expanding as the threat of winter creeps in.
It's good to renew with family and compare notes. I found (when I met with my girl cousins in Georgia last year) that sometimes we have the missing pieces of times and places vaguely remembered. Other times, we have very different interpretations of what happened. But it's all interesting and important.

Elephant's Child said...

Love the autumnal vibrancy in your garden.
My family too is dysfunctional. Which I knew, but the details of just how many gaps/lies there are in what I thought I knew continue to emerge. And shape me. I suspect that they do everyone and some part of them influences us all - and particularly the artists/writers/creators.

Patricia A. Laster said...

As a recent speaker said, when you hear someone talk about family, you take a mental trip to YOUR OWN family. My next-oldest brother who moved (and stayed) to California from central AR shares lots of things he remembers that I wasn't privy to, being a daughter. Loved your vivid descriptions. xoxo

Linda O'Connell said...

I write what I regard as the truth, and unless it would be considered slanderous, I am not that concerned. Not many in my family read my stuff.
I too am dreading the onset of this winter withering, a great description!

Sioux said...

I write honestly about family matters. There is little reason to flinch about it--it's all chronicled in news reports and court records (some of it). The ones in my family who should be the most bothered don't read my stuff and don't even know I'm a writer...so I think I'm safe. ;)

And I'm looking forward to snow...lots of snow...because it means an occasional snow day.

Do you think we could get four inches of freezing rain and six inches of snow tonight? I need it.

Rebecca said...

Not sure ANY family is free of SOME sort of dysfunction.... I think we just come to recognize it at varying stages of our lives.

Your mums are gorgeous! I need to wander out back to see ours.

And I can sympathize with your social security woes, I think. It IS draining, isn't it?

Rebecca said...

I'm currently reading Playing with Water: A Story of a Garden by Kate Llewellyn. Wanting to know more about her, I goggled her name and went first to this interview. It really has some connections with the question you posed about honesty in writing, etc. You might be interested. (I didn't realize what a prolific writer she is - am enjoying the book I'm reading) http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/saturdayextra/kate-llewellyn/3288742

Rebecca said...

I'm currently reading Playing with Water: A Story of a Garden by Kate Llewellyn. Wanting to know more about her, I goggled her name and went first to this interview. It really has some connections with the question you posed about honesty in writing, etc. You might be interested. (I didn't realize what a prolific writer she is - am enjoying the book I'm reading) http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/saturdayextra/kate-llewellyn/3288742

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Love your imagery, Claudia. You're so great at analogies and metaphors that flow without sounding forced.

I'd be more inclined to write about family if I had some dirty laundry to air, but we're a pretty boring bunch. lol Maybe that's why I prefer writing fiction. :)

Susan said...

Oh Claudia, I don't want winter to come too soon, either. I'm savoring autumn.

Well, I don't think too many family members would read my stuff. But if they were in it and were not written about in a kindly manner, I think they'd get miffed.

I usually try to write about the positive memories, of which there are many. The crappy ones I prefer to be left in the dark and dusty past. Susan