I hope you enjoyed my blog and will come to visit again. I’ll be writing about memory and memoir. Sometimes I’ll write a book review about a good memoir, or refer to a memoir that offers strong lessons in how to approach writing personal stories. Sometimes I will describe a memory of my own that may have relevance for the writing of stories. I’m very happy when readers submit a story from their own lives that relates to one of the posts, and I publish it in a later post.
In earlier years, I worked as a Medical Lab Tech in Montreal, then as a French and Physical Education teacher in Ontario secondary schools. I left those careers when my partner and I began working full time building a 46′ sailboat in a barn. Six years later, we sailed south, chartered the boat to support the life style, and settled in the Turks and Caicos Islands. There I worked as an algologist, growing algae to feed baby conch, and as an organic gardener for a non-profit group.
I started writing during the sailing years because life on the ocean and in the islands was so fresh and immediate I felt an urgent need to record it so as to not forget it, to re-experience it in words, and to communicate it to others in various sailing magazines. A book resulted: The Perfect Galley Book. I discovered that writing was another way of educating. I became passionate about creating words in notebooks, journals, blank pieces of paper in a typewriter, on a computer screen.
Eventually returning to Toronto, I first worked as a seamstress at Ulmer Sails and as a book seller at the Nautical Mind Bookstore. Then, upgrading my teaching certificate to include English as a Second language (ESL) enabled me to teach ESL in Scarborough secondary schools and Seneca College until the late nineties.
In the seventies, oral histories caught my attention and at the first opportunity, I recorded my father’s stories of his early life, going back even further to his parents’ life in Ireland. It was such fun and so rewarding for both of us that I designed a course to show others how to record their own stories. The course grew and grew and eventually became a book: The Gift of Memoir: Show Up, Open Up, Write and it was published in 2015. Researching and writing it took four years of reading memoirs, writing chapters, reading chapters to a writers group, and editing, editing, editing.
I continue to write, compose life stories for elders, give my course, renovate this 1850 house, and have lunch with friends at Crawford’s Café on Lake Ontario in Port Hope.
Memoir Writing Workshop. My next three-hour workshop in writing memoir is July 5 in Picton at the Wellings. Seating is limited to twelve. Please register with the library. There will be another in Picton in October, date to be decided.