Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Packed in like sardines

When the small seminar room at Mosman Library was nearly full yesterday morning I heard someone behind me say "We're packed in like sardines."

People continued to pile in to the room for Carol Fox's talk "Writing your life story". A lady sat on the floor beside me and a few stood in the hallway. The helpful library staff rustled up a few extra chairs for the overflow. There is a booking and ticketing system for the Mosman events  presumably so that once all seats are allocated no more bookings are taken. No-one appeared to check off names as people arrived for this popular event. That the room was over full and there were chairs set up in the hallway blocking egress created a safety hazard. The venue for this event was totally unsuitable. 

If  the numbers at these events can't be limited and if demand exceeds  the space available the nice people at Mosman need to think about another space. I have previously attended Mosman events that were held  in the Local Studies room; while using this would have inconvenienced the one or two users of that area it would have served more people by being used for the seminar. Perhaps the Council has another space outside of the library that the library can use for its events, perhaps the Council Chamber might be available for these events.

In spite of my safety concerns (I was first to arrive so got a seat close to the door) I enjoyed the seminar and thank the Mosman Library people responsible for organising it. Carol is the fourth speaker I have heard on this topic but as each presenter has taken a different approach to the topic I heard some new ideas yesterday.

Carol reminded us that "There is no right way" to do this. She suggested that we "just get it down" and  emphasized that " this is your story you can write whatever you like". 

During her talk the vibrant Carol read excerpts from a number of self-published family stories to illustrate the different approaches that can be taken to the writing task. She shared details of many resources that have been written on the subject including  one she particularly likes by Michael Oke "Write your life story". An Australian title she recommended was Remember when by John Hockney.

As a practical exercise Carol suggested we construct a personal timeline of events from our lives and 
start writing from anywhere on timeline. To make the initial writing easier she suggested we start with the easiest topic or a happy event.

As I enjoyed this event I will be keeping my eye out for announcements of further talks in the Monday Matters series.

3 comments:

Celia Lewis said...

I definitely agree about the safety problem... unacceptable casualness on the part of the staff!
The topic is a great one - and I may get that book you recommend "Write your own story". It seems practical to just start writing... one page at a time, one memory or event at a time, etc. It can always be reorganized and shuffled later. Thanks for the post, Jill!

Eliot Ball said...

She is a lovely person and I cannot wait to hear her talk when she comes to Stanton Library North Sydney on Wednesday 30th August 2014. There is a blog article about her http://northsydneygenealogy.blogspot.com.au/

Jill Ball said...

Thanks for the comment Eliot. I have shared your post on Google+

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