Polishing Gems – More on Writing Family

As I wrote a few days ago, I'm currently carving out some time to write a number of brief creative nonfiction pieces on my most memorable family members. One might say: Ho-hum. Another memoir whining about how Mom and Dad "did me wrong?" And what's so special about the most common of common folk? Aren't these pieces going to be about as interesting as a box of bran flakes?

image via thebarking.com

First, there are unique things about any family member – unique experiences, personality tics, their responses to the vagaries of life. The experiences, these persons, they're all microcosms of the larger world around them. Your challenge as a writer is to find that connection and to weave what you know about that person into the larger scope of history, of geography, of human evolution. 

This doesn't mean you have to make things up or write in a grandiose way. But by connecting these lives to a greater context, you're polishing their perhaps less-than-stellar lives to a high sheen – you're finding the pearl in that oyster, the crystal in that geode. Metaphors, aside, you're revealing the perhaps unfulfilled promise in these lives as you honestly depict them.

Each connection will more than likely be unique, and as you write these stories, you just may find connections tying each into a unifying theme. If you do, you've unearthed the real joy in writing creative nonfiction.


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