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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.

I want to talk about me.


Stay with me.

Tonight I gave some brief remarks at an event geared toward journal and personal history writing. It's a topic I feel strongly about, because the things we don't write down, we forget. And as if you need any additional motivation, think of your kids. If you have a child, he only knows you from the standpoint of your parenting years. He knows nothing that happened before that unless you tell him, or unless you write it down for him to read when he is older. 

If you're like me and have no children, write about your life anyway. Writing is, at its heart, for the writer. There are all kinds of sappy quotes out there—about memories being the June roses in the Decembers of our lives, or, my favorite, how we write to taste life twice—and you can take them or leave them, but I choose to take them. I find so much value in writing about my own life, however insignificant my stories. 

To this day, my maternal grandmother* will occasionally send out excerpts from her journals, and I learn something about her every time she does this. I am moved every time she does this. I feel more connected every time she does this--not just to her, but to her parents and grandparents as well, people I never met but wouldn't exist without. Just think about that the next time you wonder if a certain memory or experience is worth writing down. Trust me, it is.

*I must have been smoking crack cocaine when I let Jeweled go to press with a reference to my maternal grandmother's funeral. My maternal grandmother is alive and well. It's my paternal grandmother whose funeral and wedding ring I meant to reference at the end of Jeweled. My (total and completely embarrassing) bad.


Advice...on dirty laundry


Because my books are piddly and my well-knownness even piddlier, it's not often that I am asked for advice on writerly things. So I was pleased when someone got in touch with me recently who is preparing to publish a family history of sorts. Her questions centered around how does a person handle talking about others and still maintain those relationships, especially when some of the experiences published are somewhat negative or revealing.

I'm not an expert on the subject, nor can I say that all my relationships remained perfectly intact after my first book, so answering this woman's questions got me thinking about my approach on honesty and if it's changed at all with this second book. I believe it has, because even though I still believe in honesty (and in sharing even some of the not-so-flattering stories that make up our lives), there are things I have written differently, rephrased, or edited out of this second book completely that I otherwise would have left. Not sure what that means, so I guess make of it what you will. And best of luck to all you family history writers out there.


The Best Kind of History


I heard some remarks over the weekend from a woman who specializes in family history. When it comes to the benefits we receive from doing and learning about family history, it's not like I really need convincing, but still, days are full and time is precious and there's nothing I'm actively doing right now to learn about the lives of those who came before me.

Someone in the audience made a comment about looking forward to future generations, and this is the part I'm particularly passionate about. It's the reason I started writing about my life in the first place. Because it hit me several years ago that I didn't know much about my own grandparents (let alone the generations before that). At least not about their pre-grandparent life. So when I was lucky enough to get my hands on some essays written by one of my grandmothers, I latched on and read as if they were chapters in a best-selling novel. Because it's simply amazing the things I learned. It's amazing what I hadn't known. It's amazing the stories that come out of a single ordinary life.

Recent studies have found that children who know stories about relatives who came before them show higher levels of emotional well-being, so start telling them stories. Start encouraging them to ask questions when around relatives. And if nothing else, start writing things down. Even if only to those who come after you, your words will matter.