Sunday, 11 January 2015

What is your most powerful memory?

Day started with some expert chiropractic care, part of yesterday's birthday bonanza. Must say that my back feels better than it has in ages.

Also had a surprise visit yesterday from my best friend all the way from the big city of Sudsbury. We managed to squeeze tonnes of conversation into a very short period and I got caught up on the latest new from the real world.

I told my friend that one thing I really admired was his ability to stick to #100DaysOfNotMe on Facebook. It seems like every time I try to commit to something like regular Diary of a Chainman posts I always fall short and so with renewed I decided to start doing my own 100 Days of Not Me. (Bets are on for exactly how long it takes to post 100 not mes! I'm guessing about 3 years, but we'll see.)

Coincidentally today's not me coincides with the loverly afternoon I spent in the company of the Manitoulin Writer's Circle attending one of their excellent workshops*. Today I had the opportunity to rummage through old memories, see myself through another's eyes and learnt the difference between an auto-biography and a memoir.

For example, while an auto-biography is very "by the books" and sticks to the linear facts, a memoir is a recounting that can include fictional tools, such as dialog, in order to explore the or a overarching theme of or in somebody's life.

With my flagrant disregard for all but the most important fundamentals I can definitely say that Diary of a Chainman is in all ways a memoir.

The following was one of today's 10 minute writing assignments. We were instructed to write a stream of conscious letter to somebody who appeared in family photographs that we were all asked to bring as writing prompts.


For the subject of my unsent letter I chose my mother from the above photo. The writing on back says "Dylon 3 Months" which would have been in the spring of 1974.

I started the letter with "Stardate 1-11-15" because I actually have an old journal of hers and she used stardates of her own creation.

Dear Mom,

Greetings from the far flung future of Gore Bay.

It has been just of 34 years since your departure from our world and I often wonder what you would make of our modern times.

1980 seems a distant memory from a time before the home PC revolution. Today I, your brilliant son, makes his living repairing technology. A vocation that honestly drives me crazy and has seen it's own evolutions in the quarter century I've spent battling rogue IT.

Did they even have the acronym IT in your day? Today so-called Information Technology drives our world in ways that only the most far-sighted from the past could ever have envisioned.

For example, most average "PPL" today are continuously connected and broadcasting to a an instantaneously synchronous communication system that rivals in every way the Global Village of Marshall McLuhan's imagination.

Still, the Island has remained mostly unchanged. We do bear a few scars of technology taken too far, but I've heard that change is inevitable for all things.

Have you ever heard the saying, "As long as somebody remembers you, you're never really gone?"

That is the lasting effect your presence left on our community. After such a startling egress and subsequent absence, it almost seems as if our town was left without a spirit and mostly I can only imagine the energy you contributed to a place where they really do remember your name.

I am pleased to report that Dad is alive and well. Today we even have a small gallery and gift shop on the waterfront, north of the marina, called Whytes. We're part of an artist's collective in a recently renovated building called the Gore Bay Harbour Centre.

In fact, that's where I am today writing to your memory across the years as part of a creative writing workshop on the self-same topic of memories and memoirs.

I've also heard that home is where the heart is and if that's true then there is a part of both our hearts that will be forever tied to this place.


And that's all I had time to pen.

Quote of the Day: Strategy, they say, is choosing upon which ground to play will battle tactic deciding who will take the day.

*I've been taking creative writing courses from Margo Little of the Manitoulin Writers Circle since I was 12 or 13 and they never disappoint to inspire. I especially love the challenges involved, such as storytelling with partners. For aspiring authors I recommend seeking out similar resources. For me it's particularly hard to read my own work in public, my hand-writing is terrible and I get nervous when I'm not rehearsed. But I'd still trade a thousand serile on-line forums for the authentic experience of exchanging constructive criticism in person.

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