We graduated another class of memoir writers last week at the Urbandale Senior Center. As usual, the instructor learned as much from the students as they did from him. Congratulations to Revanne, Bette, Mary Jane, Thelma, Jo, Ernie, Lucia, Ron, Sally, Frances and Nina.
It was a typical class consisting of widows, retired nurses, teachers, a therapist, a descendant from slaves and an Iowa farm girl or two. Writing skills ranged from one student who hated to write to a former journalist who loved to write. Some had started a family history, others didn’t know where to begin. They all shared one common trait, though – each wanted to leave a written record of family history for future generations.
By the time we reached the end of the four-week course, each was well on the path to realizing their goal.
The formal portion of the class helps students set up a structure that allows them to probe their memories, collect their stories in an orderly fashion and writing them into a coherent narrative. But it’s the informal readings of their work that really pulls it all together. As one student reads, the others are busy taking notes to themselves.
“As I hear the others read their stories, I’m reminded of something I need to put in my own story,” one class member explained. Several students commented that the class created an avalanche of memories, many they hadn’t thought of in years. It’s a testament to the immense library of information we all carry with us.
Since a few would-be students were turned away (there’s a limit of 12 students) because the September class filled so quickly, we’re offering another four-week session of Introduction to Memoir Writing at the Urbandale, Iowa, Senior Center at 1-2:30 p.m. beginning on Thursday, Oct. 15 and running for four straight weeks. Cost is $40. Call 515-278-3907 to register.
Writing prompt of the day: Share a story from your life with another person who is part of the story and ask for their version of the same story. What did you learn from their version?
Flickr photo courtesy of sflovestory.