Writing about your childhood
I don’t get home to the farm where I grew up often enough. It’s only about a two hour drive in the country from where I now live, but I find life gets far too busy at times. A few weeks ago, however, I did have an opportunity to visit my brother on a day trip. Sure, it was only a few hours but pleasant all the same. Sadly I didn’t have time to visit the farm where I grew up, and where my nephew now lives.
While visiting my brother he showed me some photos I can’t ever remember seeing. These photos were originally on slides but John had converted them to digital images and could show them to me on his television. Many of the photos were of John’s pride and joy: his tractors. He thinks he has a photo of every tractor he ever owned – except one.
While this was interesting, what really grabbed my attention was that several of the shots showed me aged between eight and fourteen. It triggered in my mind a desire to focus a little more on writing about my childhood days. Here is a largely untapped resource of experiences that I can use in my writing. It is a deep well of interesting and colourful incidents that can only enhance my writing.
A word of caution is needed. Approaching a topic like this in a dry, journalistic way would be of interest to no-one. Except perhaps immediate family. A more creative method is required if you are interest a broader readership. This is not a problem if you are only recording your experiences as part of your family heritage.
If you do desire a wider audience for these stories, why not try rewriting your life experiences as a child (or an adult for that matter) as fiction? Take that incident with the bull when you raided a neighbour’s paddock while picking mushrooms and turn it into an exciting escapade, complete with other characters who may or may not have been a part of the original story. Turning fact into fiction can release those creative juices and you will never know where the story will end up. It will surely be a more interesting read than a dry narrative account of the facts.
You never know: one or more of these stories might end up being the text for a children’s picture book, or included in a magazine or anthology.
this is useful advice, Trevor. Now all I have to do is think of some exciting sections of my childhood that could be fictionalised. ummmmmmm
Thanks John – but your childhood experiences don’t necessarily have to be exciting. The beauty of fictionalising the experience is that you can take an ordinary, humdrum incident and let your imagination soar. You may have only seen that bull in the neighbour’s paddock – now imagine what could have happened had you trespassed. In fiction, anything is possible. It’s so liberating; why be content with merely the facts? That’s what I did with my novel. It was based on a real incident, but the plot bears little resemblance to what actually happened.
What a fun site! The best writing draws from the author’s experience and emotions and although it may not always include the author’s “story”, really, it always will. Which perhaps is what makes our stomachs knot a bit when others read our work, most especially those close to us. Will they catch “us”, or even worse, “themselves” in our stories. Although it is also quite comical how many people will see themselves in your writing, but then again, that’s what makes good stories great–the ability to tap into the universal (fear, longing, love, ect) through the unique struggles each character faces.
I’d love for you and your readers to share a bit of your short stories on my website. Saturdays are short stories Saturdays (although I refuse to be bound by a schedule, so be aware, I always allow wiggle room.) Would love to see you and a bit more of your work. 🙂 G-rated, of course.