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Idaho Enterprise

Personal History Writing Class to begin at Library

If you’ve been putting off writing your personal history, it may be because the task seems overwhelming, you’re not sure how to begin and you don’t feel confident enough in your writing skills. These concerns are real, according to Shelley Davies, a writer and editor with over thirty-five years of publishing experience. “Even professional writers can be intimidated by projects like this,” said Ms. Davies, who will be offering a free course at the Malad City Library to help jump start your personal history. “You might not think you are creative enough to write, but if you’ve ever told a story to your children or grandchildren, you have what it takes,” according to Ms. Davies, who will show participants how to overcome procrastination, structure stories, choose photos and prepare the work for both traditional and electronic publishing. 

Davies holds a degree in writing from BYU, and has spent her career editing and writing in New York, as well as teaching English overseas.  She believes that everyone would benefit from putting their own stories down in words.  “Everyone has a story,” she said.  “Things that happen to all of us are what make us interesting and unique.”  The class will encourage local writers to explore their own writing “voices” and set down some of their personal stories into a permanent form before they become lost.  “These stories are important for the writers themselves, but of course also for posterity.”

Malad has a strong interest in researching genealogy, but a lot of times the focus is on dates and events, rather than the underlying stories.  “One of the things we’ll start with is the basic question ‘Where do I even start?’,” Davies said.  She plans to start the class out with writing on the first day.

Beginning Tuesday, September 13, at 6:30 p.m., the ten-week class will also teach aspiring writers easy ways to organize information and make their stories interesting with simple tricks. “This class is for people who haven’t written anything longer than a letter, as well as those who enjoy writing, but need guidance in completing the task,” said Ms. Davies. “By the end of the class each participant will have at least two finished short stories, a dozen starter ideas and a master plan for the entire project.”

The class will focus on finding each writer’s expressive voice and using writing techniques most suited to the types of stories the writers want to tell, though there will be some discussion of basic writing mechanics and style.  “It’s not a class in grammar, but we’ll talk a little about those issues, since they do affect the stories themselves to some extent.”

Anyone interesting in signing up for the class is encouraged to contact the library at 208-766-2229 to reserve their spot, as the number of participants will be limited to six for the first course.  Davies plans to run a second class beginning in January in which writers will move from telling their own personal stories to writing about other people.  As she explained, everyone has family stories that exist primarily as spoken stories passed down by family members, but it can be a great gift to the whole family to have those things recorded in a longer-lasting form.