Down Memory Lane (pt.2)

For a couple of years, my brother, Paul, and I’ve been talking about preserving family memories. Our parents and parents-in-law are gone, two of our siblings are gone, and we don’t know what the future holds. Every time someone leaves this life, an encyclopedia of information evaporates into thin air.

How many times have you heard, or even said, “I didn’t really know him”? How many times have you thought, “How would he respond in this situation?” Or, “I know we grew up together, but what happened that gave her a different outlook on life than I have?”

It was time to start documenting Linzey family memories!

To begin, two major factors had to be considered.

1) Because everyone is so busy, the process must be simple. And

2) Because writing is seen as a chore, the process must be enjoyable.

The brainstorming session began.

Proverbs 17:22 informs us that a cheerful disposition (“a merry heart”) is good medicine to the body, but discouragement causes our health to deteriorate (“dries up the bones”).

We could let each sibling take turns choosing a topic to write about, but people’s minds sometimes go blank. Several of our siblings asked, “How do we choose a topic?” So Paul chose the Rememory Card® system. (Look up “Rememory Cards” on the web.) Nevertheless, with or without cards, here is the simple process Paul wrote.

  1. Decide how many months you would like the project to continue.
  2. Each week, take turns selecting a writing prompt and those joining the fun will write a memory on that topic. Write from a half to 2 pages per memory. Paul and I decided on one memory per week, but you can choose your own time cycle. We realized that if we waited too long, we’d lose the enjoyment and the momentum.
  3. Write whatever you want. Nobody will censor your language or stories.
  4. There is no pressure or mandate to write about every topic selected. If you don’t want to write about something, skip it.
  5. You may write about anyone in the family. Your stories don’t have to be only about yourself, however, you should be considerate of others’ feelings when writing about your family.
  6. You can draw from your whole history. Consider your whole childhood as well as your adult interaction with the family.
  7. This is a memoir project. Memory is not always accurate. In fact, it’s been demonstrated that nobody remembers perfectly. Also, we tend to interpret as we remember. We subconsciously fill in the blanks, expand, and erase some aspects of our experiences. So, we don’t challenge anyone’s memory. Memory is specific to the individual.
  8. Every family has both good and bad, painful and pleasant, positive and negative, funny and serious memories. Try to get your stories to reflect a balance and a blend of these dynamics.
  9. Not everybody will remember what you remember, so it might be a good idea to identify the year, the location, and the writer’s name after each person’s story.
  10. It’s OK if your stories focus on yourself, but, if possible, find a way to bring at least one other family member into the anecdote.
  11. This endeavor can create priceless documentation of your family history that your grandkids and great grandkids might never know otherwise.
  12. Simply take turns choosing a topic, gather the stories, and have someone compile them. If the family agrees, you may find a publishing company (expensive traditional or affordable self-publishing company) to format it and turn it into a family treasure.
  13. Keep in mind that this memory project is for your own benefit as well as for the rest of the family. And if you get brave, as my family might, you can have it published for the general public.

Our family started in January and will complete it in October. With six of us writing, we’ll have well-over 400 pages to edit and format into a family treasure.

There are ten kids in our family, with fifteen years between the oldest and youngest. Knowing that fact alone, you may understand why there’s a lot about each other that we don’t know – even coming out of the same family, same church, and same basic culture.

The fact is, we are all different and we all interpret life differently. But all six of us thoroughly enjoyed it, and, as a side benefit, this project has drawn us all closer than we’ve ever been before.

Down Memory Lane (pt.1)

In the summer of 2013, Carol and I were in Southern California when I learned that one of my cousin’s sons had died. Attending the graveside funeral, two other cousins and I began talking about family memories. The statement that caught my attention was, “When a person dies, all his or her memories are sealed in the coffin, never to be recovered – unless they were documented.”

Unless they were documented kept ringing through the corridors of my mind.

Documented how? When? In what circumstances?

We all know that nothing happens unless it is planned. Even accidents are planned out of ignorance by those who refuse to take safety precautions.

My cousins and I began talking about generating a family writing project, and the outcome could be a book of family memories. It could generate family cohesiveness. (We needed it!) We especially wanted to get memories from our surviving parents written down prior to their departure from this life. The farther back we can go, the stronger our family foundation will be. Our grandparents were already gone and our fathers (who were brothers) were gone. But our mothers were still here, and perhaps we could get the writing ball rolling. They could fill in memories of their husbands – our fathers.

Well, that didn’t happen. The only memories from our parents that we were able to compile was from their private writings in letters and diaries. And that wasn’t much.

When one of the cousins asked why we need to get memories written and what difference it would make, all I could say was, “For you, it wouldn’t make much difference because you are not interested in your past. And it infers that you aren’t interested in teaching your kids about their past. But enquiring minds want to know.” He openly agreed that it doesn’t matter to him, but that didn’t hurt our relationship. We still enjoy great camaraderie.

But I’ll answer that question for you folks.

Family history is important. Among other things, it helps to establish personal identity, self-esteem, and helps us understand the direction we’ve chosen to travel in life. Several examples follow.

Both of my parents were musicians, they came from a line of musicians, and my nine siblings and I are musicians. Dad was a chaplain, Mom’s side of the family includes a line of ministers of the Gospel, and nine of us siblings have been in or are in Christian ministry.

Dad was not only humorous, but quite pragmatic. What about the ten of us? All of us are pragmatists, and all but one has a well-developed sense of humor. Yes, we laugh a lot sometimes in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Let me add here, no matter how funny the story might be, try NOT to laugh at a funeral. It is the wrong place and the wrong time.

Everyone has quirks, traits, or habits that are peculiar to them. Why do we have them? Where did we get them? Does it matter?

It does matter for several reasons.

If we are being harassed or pestered about a personality trait, we might want to change. Understanding our past can assist us in making the change. But understanding our past can also strengthen our backbone if we don’t want to change. We just might like who we are!

I’ve been told often, “You’re just like your dad!” At first, I didn’t know how to take that hit. But when I stopped to analyze the situation, I was happy. I like my dad! So I was happy to be “just like him.”

One time I introduced Dad to some of my colleagues in New Mexico. After a few minutes of interaction, one of my friends said, “Chaplain Linzey, you’re just like your son.” Dad and I looked at each other, looked back at my friend, and broke out laughing. When the one who made the comment realized what he just said, he broke out into a big laugh, too.

Proverbs 17:22 informs us that a cheerful disposition (“a merry heart”) is good medicine to the body, but discouragement causes our health to deteriorate (“dries up the bones”).

So, what does that have to do with writing family memories?

Thanks for getting me back on track.

I have nine siblings. Two are in heaven, and two don’t have time to write. But six of us decided to get this family memory project going. I’ll tell you more next week.

What Have You Been Up To?

“Hey, Gene, I haven’t seen much of you lately. What have you been up to?”

You may have a different name than I do, but has anyone ever asked you that kind of question? Most likely.

I suppose I have been out of sight from many of my friends recently. Yes, the covid pandemic took its toll on socializing this past year – and still is to some degree. But I’ve been busy for other reasons.

As a former pastor, I receive calls to fill in for ministers when they are on vacation or attending church conferences. Sometimes they call me to preach or teach on a special topic. If you read my blogs, you know that I am a devoted follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But last year I added another role: I format books. What is it that? One man said, “I write em, you format em, P&L publishes em.” And that is true. It is laborious and time-consuming but rewarding. I enjoy hearing people say, “I never believed I would actually get that book written, let alone published.”

A question many people ask is, “Who do you work for?” My answer is, “I work for you, the author.” And that is the truthful answer. However, the company I represent is P&L Publishing and Literary Services. You can read about them on their web site at plpubandlit.com.

So, what does a formatter do? The process is not fast, but it is simple to understand.

  1. Someone writes a story. This can take anywhere from a week to several years. The manuscript could be a novel, a historical account, a devotional, a how-to teaching, a cookbook, how to catch fish, or about anything you can think of. But then the writer wants it published.
  2. This step often involves an editor. Not always, but often. The editor is a professional who improves the writing and makes the book a better product. You can find more about our editing services on plpubandlit.com. The next step is where I come in.
  3. The formatter gets the necessary information from the author, puts the manuscript in the proper format and uploads the manuscript. Many of my authors do not go through an editor, but just want to publish the book. As the man said, “I write em, you format em, P&L publishes em.”

I have obviously oversimplified the process, but it gives you an idea of the publishing procedure and what I do.

If you are interested in writing a book but don’t know how to start or go about it, P&L also offers mentoring and project development services. But my part is formatting. If you’ve been writing and you now want to get it published, contact P&L Publishing and Literary Services at plpubandlit.com. Tell them you heard about them on my blog. Or, you can contact me directly at masters.servant@cox.net.

And now you know what I’ve been up to lately: I preach, teach, write, and format. I hope to hear from you.

Have a great day.