As promised, let’s talk about how to use the objects in your life to weave the threads of a story. The Sewing Machine, by Natalie Fergie is currently on Amazon’s best seller list. This fascinating novel uses a common household tool as the common element tying together lives and families across generations. I’ve decided not to give you too many details as I don’t want to spoil a good read. If you think you’ve seen this plot before let me challenge you—you have never seen it quite like this!
You will never look at the mundane objects in your life the same way after reading this book. It will open your eyes to nuances of story and coincidences that have affected your own life. It will make you think. Any maybe dismiss the whole notion of coincidence.
Some themes to consider as you think about any objects in your life that might serve as generational connectors or story starters:
Trace the history of an object through your family tree. You can use the history of an object to both anchor and tell your own family history. This popular technique is used by fiction writers and works beautifully in writing your memoir too.
Is there something that has been passed down through the generations? Trace its origins, who held it for a time and why. Who has it now? Why? Where do you think it will go next? Can you imagine a few generations down the road who might cherish it? Why?
There is value in castoffs– people and things—why is this particular object valued?
Different people value objects for different reasons,
can you trace the attitudes of your object’s previous owners?
One of my clients has a rolling pin that is very special to her. She is a great natural story teller and loves to pass on the history of this object. And her grown children and their children love to hear it. Grandma’s rolling pin has a legacy all its own.
It started as a wedding gift many generations ago, prior to the Civil War. It was lovingly passed down and is part of a tradition of pie making and biscuit rolling that touches the heartstrings of all in the family. It connects them. It isn’t just a chunk of hardwood; it is the memoirs of family gatherings, of joyful times celebrated, of grief shared. It is the connecting piece, witnessing future hopes as little hands are coached in how to roll out the pastry evenly and as new grandchildren are bounced on knees over a piece of after-dinner pie. It sits in testimony to the love and resilience of family as friendly bantering bounces around the kitchen about which kinds of pies to bake this year.
Make a list of the important objects in your life.
You will probably see one or two rise to the top with a feeling of emotion and poignancy that shouts out “Tell my story!” Now, get that thing and hold it, look at it, really see it in all the details. Let your mind wander over everything you know about it and the people who have cherished it before you. See how many points of connection you can make with that object(s). !
When you’re done with this little exercise you will probably have enough material for several chapters or your own little mini-memoir using this object as the thread.