Life Writing: A Bit of Looking Back, A Lot of Looking Ahead

Some interesting life-writing items I’ve come across recently reflect end-of-the-old-year/beginning-of-the-new-year themes.

dan-resized.jpg Professional Personal Historian Dan Curtis (pictured) published a list of The Top Personal History Blogs of 2011, some of which I know well and will also be well-known to readers here. (Do read his post to learn his criteria for the list and which blogs he considers to be the best of the best). Here are his picks with his commentary:

  • Legacy Multimedia blog. Owner Stefani Twyford says that on her blog “you will read about my passion for personal history, filmmaking techniques, genealogy, and related topics. I will veer off onto other topics from time to time but always come back to the things that make my work and my life a joy.”
  • Memoir Mentor. Owner Dawn Thurston says, “My blog is an attempt to participate in the larger community of people interested in life story writing of all kinds and perhaps help a few people persevere in writing their stories.”
  • One Story at a Time. Owner Beth LaMie says, “I hope you find my stories of interest, especially if you want to write some of your own family stories.”
  • True Stories Well Told. Owner Sarah White says, “Here’s where I share the thoughts I might bring up for class discussion. Here’s where I post the writings of my fearless, peerless, workshop participants. Here’s where I share stories from my own life, as well as my pet peeves, pointers, and personal observations. I hope to create the atmosphere you find in my classrooms.”
  • Video Biography Central. Owner Jane Lehmann-Shafron describes her blog as a place for “Advice, essays, samples and inspiration for people interested in preserving their personal and family history through video biography, memorial video, life story and genealogy video.”
  • Women’s Memoirs. Owners Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnet have put together a wealth of information that includes writing prompts, book reviews, and more. Women’s Memoirs is not strictly speaking a personal history site but there’s a lot of useful material here for anyone involved in personal histories.

Curtis also recently published The 50 Best Life Story Questions. It’s a terrific list because it certainly isn’t run of the mill. Here’s a small sampling:

  • If you could do one thing over in your life, what would it be?
  • What makes you happy?
  • Looking back on your life, what do you regret?
  • What do you believe to be true?
  • What is the secret to a happy life?
  • What do you believe happens to us after we die?
  • Who’s had the greatest influence on your life and why?
  • What are the qualities that you admire in your friends?
  • What is the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?
  • How would you describe yourself?

New-Year-Chart_350x263.jpg Amber Lea Starfire has an New Year’s Day excellent post in which she describes the process she engages in annually in which she reflects on the past and looks forward to the future. In A New Year’s Writing Tradition, she describes creating a New Year’s Chart (pictured), kind of a mind map that captures:




  • Things I want to do.
  • Things I want to be.
  • Things I want to learn.
  • Things and people I want to see.
  • Places I want to go.
  • Adventures I want to have

Amber says developing the chart is a fun, creative activity, and I believe it.

TheMomentCover.png Finally, when SMITH Magazine founder Larry Smith participated in his Q&A here back in September 2010, the magazine had just launched a new project, The Moment, “moving personal pieces about key instances — a moment of opportunity, serendipity, calamity, or chaos — that have had profound consequences on our lives.” Today is the release day for the book that resulted from the project, THE MOMENT: Wild, Poignant, Life-Changing Stories from 125 Writers and Artists Famous & Obscure. I’m probably looking forward to this book more than Smith’s six-word-memoir books because the contents will necessarily be much more storied when not restricted to six words.

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A Storied Career explores intersections/synthesis among various forms of
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Dr. Kathy Hansen

Kathy Hansen, PhD, is a leading proponent of deploying storytelling for career advancement. She is an author and instructor, in addition to being a career guru. More...

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The following are sections of A Storied Career where I maintain regularly updated running lists of various items of interest to followers of storytelling:

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Links below are to Q&A interviews with story practitioners.


The pages below relate to learning from my PhD program focusing on a specific storytelling seminar in 2005. These are not updated but still may be of interest:

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