What in your life could be a reality show?

5-9-2014 8-09-52 AM

I’ve noticed a trend of late in the publishing world – chronicling life around us. Of course, I’ve always called this a form of life writing, not exactly memoir but more a biography of sorts, a collection of biographies.

People seem to love reality TV: Call the Midwife, Naked and Afraid, The Kardashians, America’s Top Model, The Little People, Honey Boo-Boo, My Five Wives, 19 and Counting, and so on. What is our fascination with other people’s lives? Is it voyeurism (defined by Websters as “a prying observer who is usually seeking the sordid or the scandalous”)? Or do we watch or read in order to figure out our own place in the world by seeing where other’s are it in it?

Whatever the reason for this trend, it bodes well for the budding writer looking for something to write about. Think about your daily routine.

What in your life could you be chronicling?

Of course, there are issues – important ones – in going from chronicling to publishing the chronicles. Names must be changed. Places need to be altered. Stories themselves may need tweaking if you intend to go live with your stories. But those things come later. For now, let’s just ponder what we could be recording in our own little worlds.

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Dennis Cardiff chronicles the lives of the homeless in his hometown in Canada. He’s been doing this since 2010 and his blog, Gotta Find a Home, has near 15,000 followers. The first of three books, Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People, will be out in June.

 

Here are some ideas you can get from work:
I keep thinking about the TV shows like Taxi back in the 70’s – behind the scene stories of NY cab drivers.

  • Stories of clients, students, teachers, parents, etc.
  • Behind the scenes of a (school, hospital, clinic, morgue, etc.)

Some more ideas:

  • Stories random people tell you
  • Random overheard conversations (on the bus, in the cab, in the park, at school, in the store)

Chronicling aside, how about CREATING a COLLECTION of stories?
Cardiff not only chronicles the lives of the homeless, he has created a complete collection of their lives that reads like a story. You could do that, or you could simply compile an anthology of sorts.

Stories from

  • senior citizens in a home
  • breast cancer survivors
  • vets home from the war
  • spouses and children of vets away in the war
  • teachers
  • unemployed professionals
  • members of a sports team
  • a charity organization

Would love to hear what you decide to write about!

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About Karen Y. Hamilton

Walt Whitman says about his autobiography, Specimen Days “…At any rate I obey my happy hour’s command, which seems curiously imperative. May-be, if don’t do anything else, I shall send out the most wayward, spontaneous, fragmentary book ever printed.” This is what I feel at this juncture of my life, the need to gather together memories of my ancestors as well as my own memories into some semblance of order. Because all of those fragments, all of the fragments that make up any life, become stories. I am the mother of three sons, who affectionately (I hope!) call me 'gypsy mom' because I tend to wander around a bit soaking in the universe's wonders. I am currently working towards an MFA in Creative Writing at Florida Atlantic University. I have published essays with Heritage Press, Florida Living, and the St. Pauls Review. I am currently working on a book of poems about the Florida Everglades pioneers and a memoir about grief and the bonds of friendship. I live in my hometown, Jupiter, Florida and work as a freelance writer and curriculum specialist.
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