Tuesday, June 27, 2017

7 Steps to Write Your Reader's Autobiography


Happy summer reading!
I am a part of everything that I have read.” 
Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President, USA

Hard to believe that my 1st-grade teacher in Kansas wrote this on my final report card: 
Lore is very shy. 
To help her, I suggest that she reads books during her summer vacation. 

Sincerely, 
Miss Linda

(I still have the report card.)

Mom embraced Miss Linda's advice. Weekly library trips became a summer routine for all three of her kidlets. Gleefully, I lugged home an arm's length of books after every visit. Why? I was inspired to compete in the Willy the Bookworm Reading Contest. For every book read, you colored one segment of Mr. Willy's caterpillar body--all done on an honor system. Once completed, you gave the librarian the completed and colored form of Willy for a prize. While I can't recall what the prize was...

I do remember that this was the summer of falling in love with reading!
Fast forward five decades and I’m a self-professed bookaholic who doesn’t want to be in recovery. 
I love the word. 
I love writing. 
I love books.

To illustrate --and now bragging-- I helped gift thousands of books and textbooks to Honduran schools while teaching there for five years. The Goodwill Outlet Store became my personal Barnes & Nobles. The books were bought for a $1.00 a pound thanks to family and friends' kind donations and efforts. (Check out local stores. There's a difference between Goodwill Retail and Goodwill Outlet stores.) And last year, my dream came true! Yes, I became a #1 Amazon bestselling co-author of five books! No, it's not a #1 NY Times bestselling author title, and I am content.

So where did your love of books and reading come from?
Curious to answer this question, I crafted my Reader’s Autobiography—something I now ask that my students explore in the Divine Dialogue Writing Course. It could also become a reflective exercise for a book club or a family project on a rainy day. 

Thank you, Kelley Grimes, for this idea. Oh, to be a fly on the wall when your Book Sisters Bookclub meets! Please send photos please of the ladies who've been gathering for 18 years. 
Daughter Nazlie (10) & me on front steps

My all-time favorite book? 
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach, a #1 NY Times bestselling author.

Anyone who knows me owns a copy. Three books now rest on my "to gift bookshelf." Mea cupla, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, Sarah: my copies of Simple Abundance now come from Goodwill since I give away so many. Whoever donates them, well, it's their loss and my joy.

Published in 2009 and gifted to me by my mom, Simple Abundance sustained me as a Caribbean expatriate and new, single, 45-year old mom with a 10-year old daughter.There was no phone, snail mail, or internet services on the Isla de Roatan, Honduras, where we lived. My lifeline to sanity and civility became the daily reading of "Sarah"--what the book was called in our bungalow. Maybe you feel the same deep sea gratitude for an author and book.

Rediscovering your reading roots might uncover buried treasure!
Here’s a roadmap to writing a Reader’s Autobiography:

1. Get started
Find a quiet place.
Sip on a favorite childhood drink. Lemonade. Kool-aid. Anything with Fizzies.
If not at home, head to the children's section of your library. Pull up a little chair or a piece of carpet.

2. Rewind
For childhood research, look at the Newbery Medal and Honor Books. Do any on the list ring a bell? Your adult reading years might be easier to research. Think about high school or college reading assignments. Finally, peruse your bookshelf, which if you're like me, will take some time given my bookaholic nature. 

3. Record
Make a list of books and authors --three for every decade of your life that made a difference in your life.

4. Reflect
Nothing more to say here.
Grands Mamie & Bump Bump, (L-r Cathy, me & Mikey)
5. Remember
Who taught you how to read? Who read you stories? Write them a thank you note. If you don't recall the person's name or if they're no longer alive, write the letter anyway. They'll get it via Spirit-mail. I'll be writing my grands and Miss Linda, my 1st-grade teacher.

6. Write
Put pen to paper. Write your reader's autobiography. Write what you enjoyed and learned from each book. Celebrate and document your life through the books that you've become a part of. It's like an old-fashioned book report. Remember those? (I wonder if they call them "Kindle Reports" now?)

7. Read
Enjoy taking a book from the shelf while sipping your favorite childhood beverage...ahhh...the luxury...the gift...the privilege.

P.S. Do you seek time to write YOUR BOOK? Your special invitation awaits you at the St. Pete Writing Retreat, October 29- November 3.



18 comments:

  1. Love this Lore reminds me of the teacher at 12 who said i couldn't do art because i could not draw. I love simple abundance too xxx

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    1. Oh, my! How incorrect were they???? My art teacher told me the same when I was 13. Sadly, I listened...and chose to paint with words instead of brushes.

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  2. This is beautiful Lore! What a great idea - the authors and types of books I read seem to dramatically change over a decade. I have also always been an avid reader and these ideas really resonate with me. Thank you!!

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    1. Thank you, Jenny. It was a fun exercise to do as we most often are asked to share our resumes or personal autobiographies...and not with this focus.

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  3. I love reading too! Good energy to you.

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  4. I love this blog and the reflective writing exercise Lore! I am going to share it with my Book Sisters Book Club that my mom and I formed 18 years ago. My mom was a teacher and inspired my life long love of reading. Our book club has encouraged me to read books I never would have picked up and I am so incredibly grateful. It was just he 20th birthday of the Harry Potter Series and my family was so excited about reading those books that we stood in line at midnight at Barnes and Noble to get the next book and then devoured it the next day. I am so grateful for books throughout my life and am honored to be a writer as well. Thank you Lore!

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    1. You're so welcome! Invite your book sisters to come to FL...for the St. Pete Writing Retreat. I know CA is gorgeous...but hey...we've got a cultural Renaissance going on here. It's off the the charts! (PS For my last retreat in April, two women came from San Diego and another from Annapolis.) www.WritersVisionQuest.com

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  5. I have the Simple Abundance book as well -- and just like you, I most likely bought it from a second hand store! Our local library also has many shelves of books for 50 cents or a dollar. Even though I tell myself no more books, I just can't help it! Thanks for an inspirational post. :-)

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    1. You're so welcome, Sheila. I 101% understand book buying compulsions!

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  6. I am a terrible reader , always fall asleep lately...im off to a retreat soon and promised myself full days of reading, sketching and contemplating...thanks for the push xxx

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  7. Oh, how I wanted to be Nancy Drew! The local department store gave books away in the children's clothing section for your birthday each year if you signed up. That's where Nancy and I met and we were BFF's until I caught up to all the books that the author had written. I think every girl should ready Nancy to see what a smart, independent young lady can accomplish. Great post!

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    1. How fun Barb! And I agree...we've got to do more as authors and writers to inspire WRITING & READING....beyond text writing and reading.

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  8. What a fun idea! I'm not sure I could outline my reading history as clearly as you did but I do find myself re-reading some of my childhood favorites as I pass them on to the littles. Thanks.

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    1. It is a fun process....and you can't do it wrong...only right. lol

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  9. While I love reading, the choices and genres of what I read have changed dramatically over time. All in a good way...but I have so many beautiful memories attached to my books...love this exercise Lore!
    xoxo, Z~

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    1. Your experience holds true for many of us book readers...we have all evolved. Thanks for commenting and your kind words, Zeenat!

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