Chronicles of a Journey
A Sudbury Ontario (Canada) man, RAY VINCENT, wrote his own life story recently, and he found the journey to be transformational.
Ray originally wanted to just leave a legacy for his children and grandchildren, but once he began writing, he realized his story had a much broader appeal and could help others.
Here is my favorite quote from the Sudbury Star article (shown in full below):
Question: What was most enjoyable about putting this book together?
Answer: "It made me understand more fully issues that had been problematic in my life. In some ways it was some kind of catharsis. It made me appreciate my parents and the hardships they endured for us. My sisters, children and grandchildren, will get to know me better for this book."
Life story writing is certainly a journey of self-understanding, healing, and transformation.
Congratulations Ray, on your awesome result.
(Please Note: You do not have to be able to sell your story in order to receive the benefits associated with life writing. The process itself is rewarding - - - although typically your family and friends will also cherish the final result)!
Ray Vincent's memories became a manuscript, and the manuscript a memoir.
Originally planning to put his experiences on paper as a legacy to his family, Vincent realized partway through the project that his story of a childhood in northwestern Quebec and a youth and adulthood spent in Sudbury would be of broader appeal.
The folks Adelaide Books thought so, too, and agreed to publish Vincent's memoir Chronicles of a Journey: And the Stories along the Way, to be distributed through Amazon and Chapters-Indigo and released in June.
Vincent is planning a local book signing and working hard on his next book, a novel, but found some time to take part in our 10 Questions feature.
1. Can you tell us a little about you book, Chronicles of a Journey: And the Stories along the Way?
The narrative non-fiction follows the author, from birth to age 71. Born in a log cabin, in Mud Lake, Que. At age 13, the large family of 12 must relocate. They move to Sudbury, Ont. A stressful period of adjustment follows; first impressions of the mining town; intimate vignettes of Sudbury; living with poverty; troubled teenage years; the shame of living in the "projects" (low-rental social housing); first year of high school without fluency in English; the difficulties attendant upon a large family wrestling with poverty and a father chronically unemployed; mother's strength of character keeps the family together.
The book touches upon many subjects that have wide human appeal. It talks about social, cultural, economic and social issues. It talks to feelings and things of the heart. And it is said simply and honestly.
The reader is introduced to a wide variety of real stories and adventures: as a child and teenager; from a stint as an officer in the Canadian army to teaching up north on the DEW Line, and finally, through his 35-year career as a social worker with the Sudbury Municipal Social Services (welfare) Department.
2. What made you want to tell your story?
The book project started as a legacy to my children and my grandchildren. However, as the manuscript developed, it became obvious to me that The Journey had a human perspective that would interest a broader readership audience.
3. Why did you focus on that part of your life?
Mother nature has given me an excellent visual memory for events and the smallest details. Furthermore, I have been blessed with great parents and a "romantic" kind of innocent childhood, which carried well into adolescence and adulthood. Simply put, I wanted to share my experiences.
4. What other writers or books have influenced you?
Growing up, I would read everything and anything that my hands and eyes fell upon. The authors influential in the formation of my literary thought can be segmented over two periods: adolescence and mature adulthood. Particularly, Dickens, Bronte, Eyre, Chesterton, Pearl S. Buck and Steinbeck in the early formative years. And then, Virginia Woolf, Eliot, Waugh, Faulkner, Orwell, Dostoevsky, and my favourite Canadian storyteller, Alice Munro, among others, in my mature adulthood.
5. What was most enjoyable about putting this book together?
It made me understand more fully issues that had been problematic in my life. In some ways it was some kind of catharsis. It made me appreciate my parents and the hardships they endured for us. My sisters, children and grandchildren, will get to know me better for this book.
6. What was most difficult?
This was like getting undressed and standing naked in public. You need a great amount of courage and a well-balanced view of life to write a memoir that is honest, unadulterated and forthright. You open your chest wide open for all to look into your heart, your feelings and emotions. This is not fiction. It is real and it is personal.
7. What do you hope people take away from it?
That simple is better than complex. That slowing down and appreciating the detail can give pleasure. That every moment has a story. Observe the things around you; be mindful and live longer and happier lives for it. That friends are fine, but family and a sound relationship with a loved one is far greater. Don't follow the crowd. That love is better than hate. Take note of the stories along your own journey; don't let them overwhelm you, but learn from them, relish them.
8. Your next book is a novel. Can you tell us anything about it?
My novel is work in progress. It is close to half completed. I'm having fun with it because the novel lets my imagination create things and events, which weren't there before.
It is a love story set in adversity and cultural conflict. The story takes place from 1963 to the early 1970's. The setting is Quebec's Quiet Revolution - the FLQ era, the political and social upheaval in the province at that time of its history, and how they affected families and personal relationships. The story moves from rural Quebec to Montreal and Toronto. The protagonists: a young teacher (francophone) falls in love with a beautiful young woman (anglophone). She is a talented young lawyer moving on with her successful career with a big law firm in Montreal. Her wealthy parents, of Montreal's Westmount and Mount Royal elite, are set against this love match for many cultural reasons, one of which is that he holds separatist sympathies.
The story follows the young couple's dilemma, heartbreaks and struggles as they fight to see their mutual loves through.
9. How has that process been different?
That process has been totally different. A memoir needs planning and structure, but it follows a groove already set and dug in by time and history. You relate what has already been lived. I find the novel more demanding. You need more planning and structure. Not only do you need to know where you're going, you also must work on how you are going to get there. In the memoir, your characters are already defined; whereas, in the novel you create them, you clothe them, you give them shape and voice and personality, and you create the very world in which they live. You go to sleep with them at night, you breakfast with them and you go for long walks with them - you even kill them if the story calls for it.
10. Would you write another memoir and if so, what part of your life would you focus on?
The Chronicles Of A Journey: And the Stories along the Way pretty well capture the salient events of my life, therefore, I do not foresee my writing another memoir. Would I write other novels? Probably.
(Link to the article):
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