How To Write Your Mother’s Story
Writing your mother’s story is an exercise for you to honour your mother, to understand her, define her, release her, defend her, recognize her, but ultimately you decide what facts are important – that’s where this becomes your story.
You do not need to submit your story to our Archive in order to participate. Write it for yourself, for your family, or to share with your group. It is a great exercise to get through writer’s block, clarify and clear up personal issues, fill out genealogical statistics. If, at the end of writing, you decide you like what you wrote, submit it with one photo to our Archive where it will be saved and read by many.
All stories contained in our Archive follow a single recipe – the story of one woman’s life from beginning to end (or the present) where the writer is just a footnote. As narrow as you might find this recipe, there are many ways a story can be told within it (browse the Archive to see) and we have found the benefits outweigh any feeling of restriction.
- Write your mother’s story – where she was born, to whom, and what happened next – in less than 2000 words. The facts, ma’am, just the facts.
- Put in all the names and dates you can remember.
- Try to follow the sequence of events that happened in her life, the milestones, what she thought of them, and the choices she made.
- Remember: keep the spotlight on mom. This is not a story about you, or dad, or the town, or the times. If you describe an event, what did mom think about it? What was she doing there?
- We found it best to go fast, just splat everything you remember on the page, and then hone it to under 2000 words (that’s about 4 pages).
- Remember: this is not the definitive statement on your mother. It does not need to be perfect, well rounded or objective. This is your story of her.
- After you’ve finished your first draft, if you discover there are things you don’t know, ask someone. This assignment is a great excuse to ask questions you never knew needed to be answered. Or you can write your questions into your story. However be respectful of your voice, your perspective.
- Respect the word count: it forces you to consider what’s most important. (If you submit your story to the Archive and it’s more than 2000 words we will send it back).
Once you’ve finished your story to the best of your ability, read it to someone – a friend, your family, your group.
If you need to write your story again, go ahead.
If you like your story and want to submit it to our Archive, go to Submissions.