Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Everyone Should Write Their Memoir

It was only seven years ago when I began writing books. I was forty-five years old and my mother had just passed away. I started with a simple, four-page story called, "My Mother, My Sister, and Their Dogs." It detailed, jokingly, how every time I'd come to visit, they'd spend two minutes with me and the rest of the visit mollycoddling their dogs. "Do you have to go out?" "Make that funny sound. A-woo-woo-woo. A woo-woo-woo." I wrote it with no intention of writing a full book.

Then little moments in my life crept into mind: the day my mother took us to Tastee Freez three times, how I fixated on the Swivel Sweeper box in CVS one afternoon, and all the shitty jobs I'd had in my life. I turned each of those moments into little short stories. Some as short as two book pages. Most, no more than four. After two years I had fifty-one anecdotes, and so I put them all together in my first book, Musings of a Dysfunctional Life.

Like a lot of writers who take to the task to share their experiences in life, I just needed to get it all out. It was therapeutic. And I wanted all my trials and tribulations written down before they slipped from my head. I knew that someday I'd want to look back at them. Recently I pulled that book out and reread a few. It was amazing. And I'm so glad I did it. And my friends, family, and strangers have connected with it as well.

There seems to be this belief that you must be famous or have accomplished something grand in the public eye to write a memoir. I remember after I finished Musings, I told a local bartender about it. She said, "You've written a memoir because you've done what?" I was taken aback and hurt by her lack of enthusiasm, but I understood where she was coming from. Who am I to write about my life and myself? Well, I'm here to tell you that you should do it because your life experiences are important. They're important because you may have triumphed over pain or overcome obstacles that will help others. For me it was an alcoholic father, being lonely, gay, and dealing with a lot of shit-ass people in my life. Plus you can also make people laugh. You don't have to be famous to do that. As a matter of fact, I've read several autobiographies from public figures. Outside of their claims to fame, many have led pretty boring, uneventful lives.

So start simple. Think of a moment in your life: first bicycle, first bully, first kiss, etc. And write down the memory as if you were telling a friend. Detail how you felt at the time. It doesn't have to be long. You'll know you're done when you've exhausted all you can say about it. Then, move on to another memory. Let it flow from your head to paper. This is not the time to hold back. People like sincerity. Write one a week and you'll have a book to share in a year. How cool is that?

Below is a list of books on writing memoirs that I found helpful while writing my own. They were very encouraging.

Oh, and that bartender. I'm on my fourth book and she's still serving beers seven years later. So, yes, I have accomplished something. Bitch. ;o)

Helpful books:
Thinking About Memoir by Abigail Thomas
Writing Your Life by Patti Miller
Advice for Writers by Jon Winokur

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Baby Owls in Oak Tree with Names (5/18/2015)

Two of the three babies are moving around the large oak tree, and now they have names. Victor (named by the homeowner after moi) was the first to come out of the nest. Sophie came second. We still can't find the third runt, but hear noises now and then. They hide really well! Enjoy these images taken today.

Victor flew to the nearby maple tree while the lawn was being mowed. Daddy was close by.

Momma sleeps while baby Sophie peeks. I filmed Sophie getting preened as well.

Baby Sophie sitting in a tree, looking at me.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Proud Daddy Owl and Baby (5/13/2015)

Two of the babies are out of the nest. One was sleeping in the oak tree this morning. We can't seem to find the other two critters. They easily camouflage. But we did spot daddy looking proud within a backdrop of ivy. Love that picture. Here they are:

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Momma Owl and Baby (5/11/2015)

Today one of the baby owls climbed higher and flew to another branch in the same tree. Oh, he (or she) SO wanted to get to the nearby oak tree where both parents patiently waited. Enjoy these still photos of the mother coming over and spending time with the babe.

More photos of the first baby out here. Subscribe to my blog on the top right to follow along.

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Brentsville Nature Trail and Baby Owls

Today I had the pleasure of filming baby owls emerging from their nest at a friend's home, plus a trip to the Brentsville Nature Trail afterward rewarded me with more awesome video footage. Here are a few still shots:

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Monday, May 4, 2015

A Psychic Predicted I'd Be A Writer

It was in 2005, a decade ago, that I came upon a streetside psychic in the Dupont Circle area of DC. She read my palm and emphatically predicted that I'd be a writer. At the time I was a self-employed filmmaker and web designer. Since then I've authored three books and have two more on the way. I still make films, and I still design websites. What's odd is, I never intended to write. I don't even like to read, except short articles here and there. And it wasn't something that I remembered until I wrote my first book, Musings of a Dysfunctional Life, from 2008-2010.  Here's an excerpt:

Five years ago I stopped along a DC street where a black and white fold-up sign advertised: "Palm Reader Here. Just $5." I decided to go for it because, well, I like when people hold my hand. It's the same reason why I like to get my hair cut, to have someone massage my scalp.

We sat on the bottom steps of the building just above a basement-level ethnic restaurant. As she started to read my left palm, a rather large and shiny green bug flew by and attacked us. We weren't sure what it was at the time, but I'm guessing it was an adult cicada in its final death throes. She led me up the steps to the second landing and continued the reading.

"You will have a good full life (my life line was long), and you will meet someone special one day. He is out there. You may already know him."

Typical Palm Reader speak.

About ten minutes into the reading she smiled and said, "If you want to know more about your future, you need to pay an additional five dollars for your right hand. After all," she insisted, "wouldn't you like to know the complete picture?"

I gave in to her marketing ploy. My right hand needed touching too. She looked up into the sky, then slowly back down at me.

"You don't like where you're working now. One day soon you will change careers and work for the government. You'll be much happier."

Actually, I had worked for the government for years, but was now happily self-employed. She got it right, just backward.

And then she finished.

"One day you will become a writer."

When I told her that I made a few films which involved writing, she shrugged her shoulders with a "see" attitude behind them. Minutes later her husband shouted down from the inside stairwell to come fix dinner. The reading was over.

And now, on this day, April 12, 2010, I am writing this story to tell you about it.


Have you ever had a prediction from a fortune teller come true? Share in the comments section below.

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