FOR ALL TIME: A Complete Guide to Writing Your Family History By Charley Kempthorne
To be honest, every night I fall asleep reading the books and magazines sent to me for review in my Tuesday column. Its not that they are boring, it is just sometimes late when I finally get to that part of my day! But when I got through the stack to this packet of materials, I became so excited over the content, that I actually got up and e-mailed the author within the hour! I just had to let him know how much I like his work. Who is this person, and what did he write that kept me awake nights?!! Met Charley Kempthorne, editor of LifeStory Magazine, author of For All Time.
This man is a pusher, a puller and an enticer of writers-who-don't-know-they-are-yet. Charley's gift is that he can talk just about anybody into opening up and writing down even a few episodes of a personal history. I'm quite sure that at his LifeStory writing workshops, he will sing and dance, stand on his head, smile that certain smile, pat a shoulder, and draw faces on the blackboard -- ANYTHING to unlock the spirit that is in you! His main tools are humor and encouragement which he uses to tickle your fancy and those memories right onto the page.
Unlike our overbearing high school grammar teachers, and "hypercritical and hyperlearned" college professors, Charley is accepting and encouraging any form of writing you set your mind to do. He's even given in and decided to like poetry! (Read his magazine, you'll get the gist of THAT story!) Charley says: "In our culture much is made of the virtue of excellence. If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing well. This might go right under the eagle along with our national motto of E. pluribus unum. Well, fine. But the downside of the excellence cult is we are a nation of spectators.
We watch Michael Jordan dunk 'em, we watch Sam Donaldson and George Will duke it out verbally. We watch any number of professionals go to it in any number of occupations, sports, pasttimes, and other activities....and then we decide that since we can never be that good, we can only watch. Maybe we'll try it "later."
In this issue are a number of suggestions about how to write some parts of your history quickly and easily and... pleasantly. SO please go to it. Today. And if you just sit down and scribble it down without much worry about anything but being yourself, you may well be surprised how excellent a person -- and storyteller -- you are!"
Don't get me wrong, this guy also has the credentials to give you practical and worthwhile writing advice. His resume fills an entire web page! Charley is a former college professor, farmer, adult educator, and contractor. Since 1991 he has edited and published LifeStory Magazine ("The Family History Writer's Workshop") and conducted workshops in writing family history in more than a dozen states. He holds an MFA in narrative (fiction) writing from the famed Writer's Workshop of the University of Iowa. In 1977 he founded the first reminiscence workshop in the nation in Manhattan, Kansas.
One of his workshop attendees, Jessie Lee Brown Foveaux, was reported in the Wall Street Journal with the headline "The Hottest Prospect in Publishing Worlds is about to Turn 98: Mrs. Foveaux Wrote a Memoir Nearly Two decades Ago: Now the Bidding Begins" (See: The Wall Street Journal, Friday, March 14, 1997, page 1.) You know where the bidding stopped? Somewhere just over a million dollars! The Bridges of Madison County have just met their match!
While any book title including the words "the COMPLETE" can raise eyebrows and questions, I can state unequivocally that this book is literally all you need to get going! Remember, I am the one who buys two or three books like Strategies for Writing Successful Essays, The Elements of Style, and other difficult titles such as the Writer's Handbook and studies them over Christmas vacation each year. But let's take a step back and take a different look at things. Quit worrying! YES, document your family history, and be precise. But START WRITING that PERSONAL history now! Charley's advice will get you on task, and loving it! Charley has the knack.
Adding our personal insights give an element of genuine caring for our descendants to an otherwise sterile compiled genealogy. This is the week you are going to take the plunge and begin writing your personal history! With Charley's help YOU CAN DO IT!
For All Time : A Complete Guide to Writing Your Family History By Charley Kempthorne