Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. Thomas Edison
You will write if you will write without thinking of the result in terms of a result, but think of the result in terms of discovery, which is to say the creation must take place between the pen and the paper, not before in thought or afterwards in a recasting. . . . It will come if it is there and you will it come. Gertrude Stein
http://www.Flickr.com/groups/writing_workshop: photos of writing prompts for zero draft short writes. Read aloud to listen for own wisdom, voice. Focus on writing, not talking about writing, not analyzing, not questioning nor commenting on writing. Time limited drafts, read aloud to discover one's own voice, own truth, which words ideas phrases work. Allow the rest to fall away. No revision or editing. Reread, underline what works, circle what is worth building on, margin notes on what you were thinking while writing that never made it to the page. Event colon date period. Seven sentence short story. Gentle invitation to keep pencil moving on page, self-discovery.
It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default. JK Rowling "Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination" 2008 commencement speech
Inner Journeying Through Art-journaling: Learning to See And Record Your Life As a Work of Art each human an artwork of wisdom gathered in a journal.
Fearless Creating: A Step-by-Step Guide To Starting and Completing Your Work of Art begin, keep moving, consolidate your life contribution.
On Apology unfinished business: restore dignity to those hurt, admit causing pain, express remorse, commit to never repeat that violation, make amends if not to that person directly then to ensure others never suffer similarly in the future, reflect on the decision making process, reassure others we do share the same values, live in a shared ethical universe (see Stanford marshmallow experiment, Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life from the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development)
Forgiveness: How to Make Peace With Your Past and Get on With Your Life a conscious decision, humane generosity, kindness, moving on; first step in authentic self-esteem
Regret suggests a life well lived, growth and adjustment beyond what is inherited from family of origin, genetic strength (genotype) and vulnerability. We choose to shape our own humanity (phenotype), journeying farther along the path of who our parents may ever be. We are not imprisoned by our parents' choices; we contribute our own unique being, self-parenting our adult deliberately.
Creating a memoir is more than Ethical Wills: Putting Your Values on Paper, 2nd Edition can offer those who want to learn from our adventures, failures, remorse P.O.V.: What I Want My Words to Do to You and perhaps pause before acting and accept responsibility for consequences.
101 Things I Learned in Architecture School is an ethical will drawn from school experiences, compact, readable, useful.
All stories begin with denial; we see what we choose to see, letting others accept responsibility, blame, guilt: parents, employers, neighbors, spouses, children. When anger accompanies consequences, the originating decision is someone else's fault. We may try compromise and bargaining our way out of the burdens of adulthood. Our field of vision is limited; we see truth as existing nearest who we are at the moment. As we continue to accumulate regret, fail, learn, regroup and move on, what we perceive as truth journeys closer to who we are becoming. We mature and address consequences of our reality. Sometimes despair and resignation ensue. Finally acceptance of what is worthy of gratitude, appreciation reveals stories of darkness, challenge, coping and letting go, uniquely shaping a self out of genetic clay.
Writing (audio- or videotaping memories for transcription) an autobiography may be helpful for reflection and honest review; left to later generations your insight may hit a resonant cord within the family offering sustenance and support for change The Hobart Shakespeareans, The Descendants, Inherit the Wind.
John Keats entire career encompassed only 3 years. He began writing as an adult, dropped out of medical training to pursue his passion and published Endymion in 1818:
A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases: it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breath.
Keats' published works were met with critical scorn during his life.
He died an impoverished unrecognized writer.
Take a risk, let your pencil warm the paper.
Put your story down.
Books encourage writing
Ethical Wills: Putting Your Values on Paper, 2nd Edition stories, guidance gleaned truthfully, preserved for another generation on paper.
Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility attitude shapes behavior: telling truth to oneself with humility, empathy.
Black Sheep and Kissing Cousins: How Our Family Stories Shape Us family stories may rescue someone in later generations.
Live & Learn: Real Life Journals: Designing & Using Handmade Books (AARP®) handmade journals for memory, collaboration, meaning, transfer of values.
We have an ethical obligation to bear witness to our life stories "thou shalt not bear false witness" to know truth and not to speak it is to lie. We are accountable for lies of omission even posthumously.
Beginners DVD true story: graphic designer takes care of his elderly father, video autobiography with hilarious talking Jack Russell
A Model for Matisse documentary Matisse' last great architectural work of art
Living Proof true story of Denny Slamon MD who treats women with breast cancer, the discovery of Herceptin
Made in Dagenham true story of machinists Ford London 1968, video interviews of actual participants including Barbara Castle over closing credits
Reds (25th Anniversary Edition) video interviews with 1917 witnesses (George Jessel, Lady Dora Russell, Rebecca West, Henry Miller, Adela Rogers St Johns writer of Nixon's Checkers speech, Hamilton Fish right wing protagonist) intercut into movie. Dementia, memory lapses, tangents, vivifying young adulthood recollections, disagreement on facts; each sees what happened differently, depending on their own ego, prejudices, filters. S/he who lives longest speaks last. Biography of Jack Reed, Portland Oregon 1915-1920.
You Don't Know Jack best actor Al Pacino addresses questions answered in Departures: what is the meaning of life? actual video interviews of those rejected, those accepted. Al Pacino's voice dubbed into archival interviews.
How to Die in Oregon Portland Oregon's Cody Curtis shares her story of thoughtful choices with integrity, personal dignity, compassion
Client 9: Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer contemporary TV news clips in movie, special features interviews. One wonders about the future impact on his children of his behavior. The pain for his wife is evident in TV coverage of his announcement. Fictional comedy Renaissance Man proverb: choices we make dictate the life we lead.
1000 Journals memoir of 1000 inert journals venturing out into the world to be discovered at a moment in someone's life, visually expressed by mark making. Journal animated by art and text. Social experiment in worldwide cooperative art collaboration and moral responsibility (see Stanford marshmallow experiment)
Hachi: A Dog's Tale Akita Hachiko was born 1923 Odate Japan, owned by professor at Tokyo University at a time when less than 300 remained in the world. Hachiko waited each evening for the train to bring his master home from work. Professor suddenly died spring 1925. Hachiko continued to wait each evening for 10years until he was found dead a block away from the Shibuya Station late 1934. Bronze statue of him still stands at Shibuya Station. Heartwarming true story of devotion and loyalty. Even dogs have stories.
Book as memoir
Can't Wait to Get to Heaven: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle) hilarious laugh out loud pseudomemoir
The Five People You Meet In Heaven written stories tell more between the lines about who we are, how relationships shape us, how we shape our relationships
The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness adult healing through memoir
Rural Studio: Samuel Mockbee and an Architecture of Decency aesthetic environments for the poor as artistic duty
My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey scientist's memoir of stroke as mental illness; brother with schizophrenia. Genetics of mental health (genotype), deliberate choices to shape genetic clay we are given into a unique vision of self (phenotype).
A Different Kind of Luxury: Japanese Lessons in Simple Living and Inner Abundance Biographies of 11 self-sufficient, financially independent artists, seeking connection to self, family, friends, community; honest self-revelation creating satisfying unexpected lives.
Fictional and biographical video memoirs
The King's Speech: nine weeks before filming, costume designer discovered grandson of Lionel Logue, guardian of diaries, papers, original notations inherited after his father's death. Grandson knew nothing of his grandfather disciplinarian mentor's importance to a king.
Departures soothing healing ritual, comfort of music, consolation
Gentleman's Agreement 1948 Oscar Best Picture, Daryl Zanuck, Elia Kazan, Best Supporting Actress Celeste Holm. Gregory Peck reporter pretends he's Jewish in order to write on anti-semitism; transmittal of his ethical values to his 11yo son, his mother's support, his fiancee's subtle reaction. Voiceover by Celeste Holm in Special Features.
On the Riviera 1951 Danny Kaye, Gene Tierney third reincarnation of the same movie script (first was 1934 Folies Bergere Maurice Chevalier, second That Night in Rio Don Ameche). Special Features biography of Danny Kaye high school drop out, self taught dancer actor comedian flyer cook, acceptance of Nobel Peace Prize 1965 for UNICEF work for children worldwide. Kaye flew 747s, built a kitchen addition to his home for gourmet Chinese cooking, was proud of his parenting, fidelity in marriage. Humanitarian "other people's problems are mother's milk to me" his values expressed in action.
Temple Grandin inspiring videobiography of autistic visual thinker who intuits animal feelings. Guided by scientist mentor, objective abstract thinking aunt and persevering tiger mother. View DVD second time with subtitles and Special Features commentary by Temple Grandin: I don't want my thoughts to die with me; I want my life to mean something.
The King And I young girl's adolescent romantic fantasy biography inspired Rogers and Hammerstein to their greatest musical collaboration "I Have Dreamed." Even doubtul truth can evoke artistry.
My Name Is Bill W Bill W and Dr. Bob's friendship created safety, familiarity, support for living with illness.
Incendies (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) woman's physical survival of Lebanese civil strife and final victory over emotional enslavement
Something the Lord Made humility hard work and generosity with knowledge and invention, true story from 1940s
Movies featuring memoirs:
Bobby (Widescreen Edtion) 1968 footage and audio recordings speak of June at the Ambassador Hotel
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood memory book of companionship, shared celebrations, grief and secrets
The English Patient (Miramax Collector's Edition) Herodotus vandalized to contain notes on a life.
Something's Gotta Give : Widescreen Edition self-discovery inspires writer's biographical theater; stars' collaborated previously in Reds (25th Anniversary Edition)
Fair Game memoir of 2003-2006 starring Naomi Watts. Voiceover in Special Features by author and husband, contemporaneous TV clips, fears for her 4yo twins, her marriage
The Keys of the Kingdom Scottish priest to China 1898-1938 journal memoir
The Bucket List torn scrap of legal paper written on by two friends, final risks, apology, gratitude
Departures closure, resolution
Josef Albers: in an age in which increased human sensibility has become such an obvious need in all areas of human involvement, color sensitivity and awareness can constitute a major weapon against forces of insensitivity and brutalization.
It took some training and optimism before I could see that silver lining and find my voice. . . . I saw inspiration in a good work someone had done for another or in a kind word spoken with intent. . . . I never let anyone tell me that I couldn't and you shouldn't be discouraged either. Tammy Kushnir
Reading all the books on swimming never will be realized until you get into the water. Take the plunge, write without thinking. Keep writing. Find what works for you. Enjoy.