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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Writing the lives of women and children

Watching my 7 year old granddaughter this morning.  It is such a joy to see how children see their world. Something as small as a flower can enchant them. Or as simple as playing games with the child next door. Life rolls on. Writing about childhood is one way into family history. I read this morning a piece that Mary Cameron (Dame Mary Gilmore) wrote about her childhood and it resonated with me.  She wrote about how she discovered writing when she was able to get to school - her father was an itinerant worker and the family moved around a lot.  She wrote of her experience during a three month stint when an 8 year old: 'I learned to compose sentences and write.  Instead of going ot to play in the dinner hour I would stay in school writing stories and description of things filling both sides of my slate as fast as i could go...in an absolute fury of composition.' Mary Cameron kept that joy of writing and went on as we know to great and wonderful things.  Many of us will have that joyful experience as a child, writing stories and composing creatively - with wonderful abandon.  But we lose it as we grow up and as other things crowd in to squash the wonderful sense of what writing can do. But it is still there. Writing can and should be a joyful expereince and writing family stories, and our own life stories offers a fantastic entry into the writing life.
Dame Mary Gilmore as a young woman
see her biography online at:


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