Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Memoirs- why write them?
Jane H Davis

               Readers love stories that they can connect with,  
                 we all have a story worth telling.
 (Kathy Pooler)

Why write a memoir? That was the question I pondered ever since my writing instructor, Alison, suggested that I should share my story. Really, I thought, who would want to read about me? She was pretty adamant that I would have a story that would hold interest for many. Alison was patient but persistent, “Jane, I don’t tell this to very many of my students, but you really do have a story that you need to tell the world!”

My original thoughts when taking the online writing class, “How to Write Your Life Story,” was sharing with my family my own story. I wanted them to know about me and what my life was about, my accomplishments, fears and even failures. I didn’t want to be remembered as an ancestry.com statistic… Name, birth date, and death date. I figured there was a bit more to me and maybe my grandchildren and great grandchildren would like to read it.

I thought about what Alison suggested for a long time as I knew this would be a huge undertaking. Where does one begin when talking about themselves? How do I hold the interest to those reading? First of all, I am a registered nurse and not an author! I struggled with coming up with a response and replied, “Alison, one writing class does not make a writer!” I was perplexed and I knew I needed help. She offered to work with me and help guide me with my writing skills. At first it was incredibly helpful and I relied on her heavily. She helped in what I like to call, fluffing my chapters. She had such a knack of making my words much more eloquent than I knew how to make them. But an interesting thing happened over time, she was not fluffing as much and soon I found that my writing skills were improving immensely! I finally decided to “fluff” on my own!

Even though I had been journaling most of my life and occasionally blogging, I had no idea the scope of this project! The first concern was, where do I start with my story? I knew if it was for my family I could start anywhere, but if it was going to be for a larger audience I had to make a decision about choosing a period of my life that would hold the most interest for my readers. I decided to limit it to a ten year period, beginning in 2001, just a few days before 9/11.

I really had no idea that I had so many memories/stories, but the more I sat down at my computer and typed, the more they floated to the surface. I was finding it very challenging as there were so many stories! I had to question everything; which were the important ones, and which ones should I let go? How much do I share as I worried my family would be hurt by some of it. I also had my own inner demons and sometimes too painful to even write, but I persevered and worked through it. An amazing thing happened; I found it quite cathartic and felt like I was healing myself the more I wrote.

A fellow blogger and memoir writer, Kathy Pooler, sums it up very well: It is a well-known fact in memoir writing circles that writing a memoir is a daunting task fraught with many challenges, not the least being: excavating painful memories, standing in your truth, and dealing with family members or close friends who may not agree with your perception of the truth. http://krpooler.com/blog/

In 2011, with the help of my favorite publisher, Frank Monahan of Rocket Science Productions gave me a deadline. “If you want this out by the ten year anniversary of 9/11, you have to have it all to me no later than early July!” Oh that was just what I needed! I am such a procrastinator and having Frank give me a deadline just pushed me to the finish line in record time. I was even a week ahead of schedule!

Would I do it again? I have thought about that many times: would my readers be interested in a bit more about “me” or should I venture out and write some fiction? I guess you will just have to wait and see!

Monday, September 9, 2013

2,996 (a number to remember)

2,996 (a number to remember)

I am sitting at my computer today putting on the finishing touches to a speech I will be giving on Thursday, September 12th at Kings Park Library. I must pause for a minute and remember. Why this is all so important to me, why do I feel the need to keep telling my story about my 9/11 experiences? Of course the anniversary date of that heinous act is in two days and all my memories start working their way to the surface.  In two more days we will pause to remember those that lost their lives on that tragic day in  2001.

Do we still remember what we were doing at that time and what we did in the days that followed?
We lived through it though.  I wrote a book about it and I also go around the country and speak about it. I therefore live through it almost daily as I speak about my book many times throughout the year. Is it still painful? Yes. Does the story lose impact over time? No. Must the story continue to be told? Yes. We can never forget.

We can learn to live with it and move forward, but we can never forget. I frequently compare it to a wound. When it first happens the wound is raw and bleeding. Eventually the scab forms, but at any time it can be scratched and start bleeding again. In time a scar will form. That scar is always visible so we remember, though it continues to fade throughout the years, it is still there.


This is the number of people that died in the attacks on our country that day 12 years ago.
The World Trade Center alone lost 2,606 lives.
The Pentagon lost 125 lives
The combined Airlines lost 246 lives
And yes, the 19 hijackers also lost their lives.

The American Red Cross trained me to be a disaster nurse and  I was sent to help New York City. Why did I feel the need to go? How could I not? Every part of my being knew that I had to do more than I already was doing.  I HAD to help. In less than three weeks, I was on my way to Ground Zero to help administer First Aid to the recover workers.

It changed my life...