Decoration Day

On this Memorial Day, I’m thinking about peonies, which, for some reason, folks in my part of southeastern Illinois always called “pineys,” with a long “i” as in “pine,” meaning to long for. On our farm, when I was a boy, we had peony bushes along the edge of the side yard where each summer…

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The Writer as Camera: Perspective in Personal Narratives

When we write personal narratives, we are both the participant and the spectator, both a character in a story and the narrator of that story. From each position, we can adjust the angle of vision, moving the camera slightly, in order to increase our understanding of the people in our lives and the situations that…

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Telling Our Family Stories

I was talking with a friend the other day about revisiting the past—the often-painful past—when we write memoir. My friend admitted to having night terrors when her work with the story of her mother became too intense. Eventually the conversation swung around to the question of why we do this. Why do we keep going…

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When the Words Won’t Come

This was one of those mornings when I didn’t want to work out, but I knew that if I did, I’d end up feeling better about myself and the world in general. Sometimes we have those days, those days of “just don’t want to”—and, of course, the easy thing is  to “just not,” but sometimes…

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