Monthly Archives: April 2012

Only Child’s win of ABC Blog award official

Only Child won this award. Part of the criteria when winning is to post their logo, so here it is.

One of the criteria for those who receive the ABC award from its creator, Alyson, of the Thought Palette blog (http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/abc-award/) is to nominate other blogs and also to share briefly something about yourself, from A to Z.

I  recently wrote about my blog being nominated for an ABC award in this  post

https://onlychildwrites.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/only-child-abc-blog-award-nominee-on-memoir/ Now that it is official (thank you Alyson for awarding me this and Trisha http://trishadm.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/alphabet-soup-the-abc-award/for nominating me), it is time for me to do the A to Z list of  things which have meaning for me. In line with this blog’s content about writing my memoir, including all the offshoots into health, living the only person syndrome, time management, etc., and of course, my parents, cousins and my son and his partner, here is my short list.

A is for ABC Award (I couldn’t resist) but it is also A for my mother’s middle name “Amelia” and my middle name “Anne,” and for Alison, my son’s partner, and Alyson who gave me this award.

B is for blogging.

C is for Crawford, my last name.

D is for death, in relation to my parents. I still grieve.

E is for empathy with others who are only children – any age.

F is for my family.

G is for good, which despite all the ups and downs, I feel my life is (well 80 per cent anyway).

H is for my health, what is good about it, but maybe for some of the bad as it teaches me lessons and makes me curious to find answers.

I is for inspiration which fuels my imagination.

J is for Joker – a mild word to describe whatever causes the snafus in my life.

K is for Kleenex, something I use a lot, for allergies, for crying when sad, and when really exasperated.

L is for Langevin, my father’s last name and the name I was born with. I still use it, too.

M is for memoir, and also for Martin, my son.

N is for Nancy, an “old” friend from school – grade to high school, whom I reconnected with at a high school reunion almost ten years ago.

O is for ostrich, the way I used to handle problems and sometimes do now, at least as a delaying tactic.

P is for parents – mine – Julia and Albert.

Q is for quiet – something as an only child and now only adult person you can get lots of.

R is for retreat, something the nuns at my grade school and one of the high schools sent us to.

S is for my son, Martin and also my first name, Sharon. My mother once told me she had also thought to call me “Sheila.”

T is for Tim, a childhood friend who stood up for me against The Bully. I reconnected with him 12 years ago.

U is for umbrella – I had a synchronistic, almost psychic experience with an umbrella left in a park and my mother’s spirit in the fall of 2005.

V is for the first letter of the last name of three cousins on my dad’s side of the family. We used to go to their home sometimes for Christmas dinner.

W is for writing. What else for a writer?

X is for xylophone, which as a child I used to play (a very tiny xylophone).

Y is for yellow, the colour of the sun. In my childhood and today I prefer sunny (and warm) days.

Z is for Zoomer, what I am in age and partly in spirit now. My spirit is also with my childhood.

Now, it is my turn to nominate other bloggers for the ABC Award. I have a few in mind and will report in a future blog post once I have done so.

In the meantime, there is a Facebook page for ABC Award blog winners. Check out the comment with my blog post at https://onlychildwrites.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/only-child-abc-blog-award-nominee-on-memoir/ and go to https://www.facebook.com/ABCaward?bookmark_t=page

Cheers.

Sharon Langevin Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under ABC Blog Award, Albert Langevin, Alphabet list, Blog Award, Cousins, Death and Dying, Family and Friends, Health, Lists, Martin Crawford, Memoir content, Mom and Dad, Only child, School reunions, Sharon Crawford, Zoomers

Only Child takes a crack at fine-tuning work time

Only Child is becoming a bear on time management

My late father may have been on the right track with his time obsession. I don’t recall how good he was at time management, but I’m presuming very good at  his job, because he worked for many years as a timekeeper for the Canadian National Railways. Dad was fixated on constantly checking the time and making sure his watch always worked. Much to my mother’s chagrin, he’d compare his watch to the kitchen wall clock during dinner. I do some of that (not necessarily at dinner), but it’s my time management area that needs an overhaul.

I have to take another crack at fine-tuning my time…with a mini sledgehammer. Some of my signs of spiralling in overwhelm are showing up. I forget where I put things; I almost forgot to pay the water bill on time; I have three evenings in a row where I have business meetings/courses, and I’m more grumpy than usual. The only sign not here (yet) is heading out the door with last month’s public transit pass in my purse instead of the current pass. And that’s only because it is the middle of the month.

The main focus of the cuts and nays this go-round is in my business. For the first time in months I did a monthly work schedule, including deadlines and times/dates to work on the projects. The list is too long, especially as I need time for personal writing (which may be going somewhere and I’m not going to jeopardize that). So I’ve been working the list, finishing client projects and crossing the jobs off the list. Of course, some of it takes longer than expected. Some of these clients I’ll be glad to do more work for down the road; others, no. I’m taking a hard look at who I work for or with and what I will and won’t do. Gone will be the manipulative clients, clients who don’t use email or even the computers they have (the extra work-around, meetings, etc. are draining my body and soul) and clients who well, just don’t listen – despite what is in the contract we sign. A few wel-used “no’s” may be the operative words here…even if I have to put a big NO sign up in my office.

I have to do this; I’m not getting any younger. But as I’ve pulled up my bootstraps (and maybe a few others’ boostraps too) with my finances, I think some cut-back is in order. The fallout is I’ve been neglecting some of my friends whom I don’t want to neglect…and I’m tired of the arguments about that running around inside my head. On a purely business level, with less and better clients I can focus more on doing a good job for them instead of rushing through it and on to the next client’s work. And (here it comes) gardening season is now here. God, or someone, help anyone who steals my garden time. I wield a mean weeder, but I prefer to use it to dig up weeds.

For those of you with time management problems in your work, read some of Paul Lima’s blogs on the subject. Here’s a link to one: http://paullima.com/blog/category/marketing-your-writing-and-other-services/time-management-marketing-your-writing-and-other-services/ Paul is a writing colleague of many years and I’ve learned a lot from him. He got me started on doing an annual business plan. (I just get carried away on what I can accomplish in a year) and has some sound advice. He is the Six-Figure Freelancer and the main link to his blog is http://paullima.com/blog/. And if you think he is all business, think again. Like me, he also writes short stories. And that is something I am not willing to give up. Ditto for my memoir writing and teaching in both those categories.

Meantime, I think I’ll dig out my Dad’s old pocket watch and also read some more of Paul Lima’s blogging gems.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Clients, Life demands, Mom and Dad, No, Only child memoir, Overwhelm, Paul Lima, Prioritizing, Railways, Sharon Crawford, Short story writing

Only Child tackles starting the memoir

Only Child at 13 and Dad on veranda of house where she grew up

When I first started writing my memoir I had a very different take on what I wanted to include. I wanted it to be more family history – mainly the dead relatives and my relationship with them – when they were alive. I’m not that weird. Some family flak, as well as some constructive criticism from another writer, steered me in another direction. My memoir is now my story of growing up a shy only child of elderly parents in the 1950s and 1960s when Dad is dying of cancer and the environment is old-school Catholic.

When you find your memoir muse, writing the actual memoir can seem daunting. Where do you start? Where do you go?

In my last post https://onlychildwrites.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/only-child-on-finding-your-memoir-muse-2/ I talked about using the kaleidoscope method to narrow down what the heck you want to write about. When you decide if it is overcoming your drug addiction, your crazy childhood or your travels through the Yukon, that’s the branch of your kaleidoscope you use to create an outline.

But before you do that, you want to write down your memoir’s focus or mission statement. As I did above, try to get it down to one sentence, two sentences maximum. This will help you create your outline.

“Create” and “Outline” seem worlds apart. But if you just write “from the seat of your pants” your memoir will be all over the place. Just remember that whatever you put in this outline may not be what you end up with. Keep an open mind for change because as you write your memoir, things will change – perhaps your perspective, perhaps due to family flak, perhaps boredom on your part. Consider your outline a “work-in-progress.”

Then…

  • Do it as a chapter-by-chapter setup or as subject matter you wish to cover. This is just to get you started – to move you from mission statement to content.
  • Under each “subject” listed, write a few sentences or list (whichever works best for you) what you could cover there.
  • If you need to dig further for information, make a note in brackets (further info needed).

That’s it in a nutshell. And, once you write your beginning chapter, you don’t need to write the chapters in the order listed. Perhaps you are missing some research for Chapter Two or the content of Chapter Five is calling your muse.  Follow it. That’s being creative. Remember, you still have your outline to steer you in…later.

Happy memoir writing.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes.

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, cancer, Catholicism in the 1950s, Elderly parents, Memoir writing, Only child memoir, Organizing Memoir, Sharon Crawford

Only Child on finding your memoir muse

Only Child with Mom in the backyard. Definitely in the memoir

I’ve started teaching another Crafting a Personal Memoir course and one thing I’m finding is we who write memoirs have so much to say. We have many areas in our lives we could write about. We may have overcome a drug addiction but the cause goes back to something in our childhood and maybe this childhood is a story in itself. If we put everything in one memoir we have overload and overkill. We risk overwhelming the reader and, if we go the traditional publishing route, turning off literary agents and publishers.

I tried to put everything in one memoir. The first agent who looked at it liked my story and my voice but said I needed to divide it into two books. I followed her advice and now have the possibility of three or four books. That’s a good thing as most agents and publisher don’t want to take on a one-book author. They are in it to make money.

So, how do you get around all this rich material and decide what to write about first?

Get organized. I know it’s not No. 1 on the creativity list, but if you keep in mind “it’s not sealed in granite and I can change it later if I want,” you can move forward.

In my course, I use two methods of nailing down the memoir focus and content. One is using the kaleidoscope or wheel method. Take a large piece of paper (or those who can use computer programs to draw, do it onscreen). In the middle of the page draw a circle and inside the circle write “Me.” Then draw several spokes from the centre. On each spoke write one area of your life – for example “Drug Addiction,” and fan out with more spokes from that word. On each “sub-spoke” write something to do with your drug addiction – for example “cocaine,” or “peer pressure.” You choose; it’s your story. When you think you have enough material, take a closer look at each spoke . Choose the subject that most resonates with you. You may discover that some of the sub-spokes for some of the different categories overlap in information. So, you can actually write about two life areas.

For example, Canadian poet Patrick Lane, who wrote the memoir There is a Season, http://www.patricklane.ca/books/ writes about not only the wonders of his garden, but also how it healed his alcoholism. And something else crops up (besides plants) – he goes back to his childhood and the troubles with his father. That is my interpretation of this wonderful book.

Lane’s book also brings out something else about memoirs – they are never just the surface story; there is always some underlying theme. Find that as well as the story, and you have the focus of your memoir.

You can also use photographs and I have shown you how in a previous posting at https://onlychildwrites.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/only-child-on-writing-memoir-from-photos/

The next step is to do an outline. In next week’s posting I’ll go into writing outlines and getting started writing your memoir.

Meantime check out Capturing Memories – Tips on Writing a Memoir http://www.capturingmemories.com/tips.html

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Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Memoir content, Memoir writing, Mother and Child, Only child, Organizing Memoir, Patrick Lane, Sharon Crawford