Writing From Your Own Life

You may not realize it, but as you live your daily life, you are creating memories, details and history that is invaluable for you, for other writers, researchers and historians.

I wish I had kept a diary as a teenager.  Not one where I wrote every thing I did every day, but one where I jotted down important feelings that moved me.  What did someone say that hurt my feelings?  What did someone do that made me feel great?  What were the details about school that I loved?  What were the ones that made my stomach turn?

My father and his brothers and sisters kept journals.  They are tiny little books with itty-bitty lines.  For instance, during one of the most horrifying times of their lives, when their brother Leo became ill with what they later learned was an infected appendix, words in the diary reflect this:

“Leo sick.”

“Leo worse.”

“Doctor called.”

“Leo’s operation. ”

“Leo died.”

No thoughts, or feelings of sadness or grief, or shock.   Since there were no antibiotics in 1925, after Leo’s surgery on the kitchen table in their farm house, Leo lingered a few days and then passed away at home.   His body was in a casket in the parlour, as was customary at that time, where a rosary was said before the funeral service in the nearby Catholic church. 

But none of this was in any of the Koehler’s diaries.  Just the facts.  Midwestern Catholic German farmers were stoic; they shed tears but they moved on.    My aunt told me she remembered her mother placing her head on the kitchen table and silently crying.  Then she wiped her eyes and finished her farm chores. 

I asked dad as a youngster, was he ever afraid of the dead bodies which were in their living rooms?  He shook his head no.  Death was so much a part of life.

Or perhaps he was afraid but just no longer remembered those feelings of so long ago?

Over the years, life has changed.  Feelings and thoughts are expressed more freely.   Reading about a character’s thoughts and feelings help the reader identify with the character. 

So take a moment in your busy life and express your feelings now and then on paper.  It may help you in your own writing.

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