Friday, September 28, 2007

Remembering: The Stuff of Personal Stories

The post about growing up in Centreville is an example of the beginnings of a personal/family story. It's full of memories, things I wanted to "catch" on paper before I forgot them. While not a story to be told as it stands, it is full of possible sources of stories.

For example, the story of the chemical toilet has become one of the most popular I tell; it's a fairly long story of 20 minutes or so, and winds from my parent's marriage to my fiasco with the toilet. It's a staple of my story bag because it can be modified on the fly for any audience, any age, and almost any length of time.

The story's roots are in my family's lore. I've been told the story so many times over the years that I can recall many little details. That's important, because repeated tellings bring more memories to the surface, or uncover related stories.

I wrote all the Centreville memories in one evening, just sitting at the computer and letting them flow. That was about 4 years ago. From those memories, I've developed one full story, but there are many others buried in those notes. I've added a few things here and there, and probably will continue to do so over the years. Eventually, I will develop another story from those years. Right now, it's germinating, and getting fertilized by more recollections.

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