Even on the left, odd on the right. Always.
That's how it is. Every trade and every profession has them ... rules and governing principles that can't (or shouldn't) be ignored.
I purchased and have nearly filled a 200-page blank notebook. It's a decent quality, hardcover book, red, with a ribbon bound into the spine so I can mark my place.
When it was nearly full I went looking for another.
The same company that made the red book offers other styles, so I selected a different one. A black one. Cloth-covered with three ribbons(!) to mark important sections.
But there's a problem.
The page numbers are on the wrong side. The pagination in the red book is correct so it never occurred to me to check the pages in the black book.
They're all wrong. The odd numbered pages are on the left and the even are on the right.
In book design, like most professions, there are rules you can bend ... or break. And some you can't.
In book design even numbered pages go on the left, odd numbered go on the right. Always.
I can't use it.
I'll cut the pages out of the book and repurpose them. Yes, it's that egregious.
It's one of the reasons I'm releasing a new workbook: How to Write and Self-Publish a Book Worth Reading.
It's a step-by-step guide to writing and creating a book you'll be proud to share. One with even numbered pages on the left, odd on the right.
A workbook that takes you through the steps of writing a book ... including best practices for writing and rewriting. A bit about the difference between editing and proofreading, why you need an ISBN, where to get one ... and a few lines about signing your book once it's published because, yes, there's something to know about that.
That's my book ... and it's a reminder why we need your book.
You have experience, stories, and insights that come from doing what you do best.
Knowledge and insights people need.
Because whatever the equivalent is in your world, you know ... it's even on the left, odd on the right.
The Day Things Got Squirrelly
It was this time of year. I'd just returned from a walk and wanted to be outside for a few more minutes to enjoy the late-breaking, almost-setting sun at the end of of a moody, gray day.
Propping my elbow on the banister, I leaned to the right and faced the sun. Standing in a near meditative state, quiet and still, I took a deep breath.
Despite the cooler temperatures, the sun was warming and it was relaxing to breathe in the clearing air.
Until I felt something on my left leg.
It was down by my calf. There was a light touch to the movement, but there was definitely something clawing at my pant leg.
Alarm didn't register immediately because I thought it was the mini poodle across the way coming to visit ... reared up on his hind legs in greeting, clawing and pawing for attention the way he would.
But when the clawing gained traction, raced up my left side and caught my sleeve at the elbow, I knew it was not, could not, be Tippy. (The neighbor's dog wasn't named Tippy, but my grandmother had a miniature poodle named Tippy and even though I never met the dog, I imagined this dog was much like Tippy.)
As panic began to register, I knew. It was not Tippy running up the side of my body.
I let out a squeal, the squirrel squealed, and with a reflective ear-to-shoulder tuck and swift flick of the arm, I tossed it off.
Shivering against the chill of the crawl, my breath caught, and I watched the squirrel race up a tree.
Stopping and turning in defiance to face me, it delivered a triple-tail flick, a double bark, and another for good measure. Its heart pounding as fast as mine.
A full-body shiver took hold of me and in my own act of defiance, I barked back.
Now it's your turn.
If you've signed up for the Calendar of Days, each week you get a week's worth of writing prompts.
This week Squirrel Appreciation Month is the prompt that caught my attention.
Maybe you have a pasta story (Monday) that includes a family recipe, or something about that time your pet gecko, snake, or lizard got loose ( Friday).
Some of you, I know, participate in Inktober (Tuesday). What are you drawing? What have you learned from almost a month of drawing?
Share what you write .... because people love stories and you've got some good ones. One story leads to another and once you've got a few, well, you've got a Short Story Memoir!
And if you want, send your story to me. I'd love to read it.
A Memoir in Letters
It started with a simple request by mail. Helene Hanff of New York City writes to Marks & Co. in London requesting a book and Frank Doel writes back. It was the beginning of a correspondence that would last 20 years.
Though the letters were never written to be used as memoir, it's a fine example of how letter writing can, and often does, serve as memoir.
Through a shared love of books, the letters reveal quirky personalities, the hardship of war, and the transformative power of friendship. Hanff's humorous, brusque style and bookseller Frank Doel's polite manner combine to make this a thoroughly charming book ... and quick read.
If you're interested in writing letters but need some encouragement and guidance, check out A Snail Mail Guide to Cursive Writing Practice. I wrote the book after hearing so many people shy away from writing because they were worried about their handwriting, didn't know what to write about, and often, not even sure who to write to.
What if I told you to think about letter writing as a conversation. Imagine you're sitting across the kitchen table from the person you're writing to. What would you say? Write that.
That may sound too simple, but really, that's it.
Inside the book you'll find ideas for who to write to and what to write about, along with a primer on learning or improving your cursive handwriting. Because be it loopy and large or compact and not so large, your handwriting is what people so enjoy seeing. Really.
And if you 're still not convinced, request a real postcard welcome. I'll write to you and you'll see, getting mail feels good.
My life's not that interesting.
That's what someone wrote in the comment section of a memoir survey I sent a while ago.
It's not what I expected, and I don't believe it's true.
After all, what makes an interesting life to one person may not be interesting to another. Is an interesting life one with lots of travel? A successful career? Life on a farm? Sailing around the world? Lots of dinner parties and dancing?
Any one of those things might fill your days, but I'm not sure that would guarantee a good memoir. What makes a good memoir is your take on the world ... how you see things, and why they matter.
Your perspective is what people want to read about.
I like to write about the unexpected, curious ways the commonplace can (and does) surprise and shape me.
Memoirs that offer a behind-the-scenes look at how someone created or experienced something can be reassuring, educational, and inspiring.
The stories that resonate with people are the ones they can relate to ... stories that remind them about something they've experienced ... or want to experience.
Where you go and what you see.
So don't worry about whether or not you have an interesting life. Where you go with your writing and memoir is more about what you see and how something made you feel; sharing what you learned, and the joys, and frustrations you experienced. That's what people want to read about.
The stories you tell could be about the pets you've had and what you learned from them, your first job, how you started your business, or what it was like that first and only time you went to summer camp. It's the common experiences, disappointments, successes, and life affirming joy that people are looking to connect with.
When I re-read some of the stories I've written, they remind me of different times in my life; a life filled with curiosity and attention to detail. And that's what matters, no matter where or how you live your life.
What did you see? How did it make you feel? What did you learn?
Write about that.
The Story Line blog is where we share short story memoirs, writing tips, and more.