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Archive for August, 2010

‘Publish and be damned’ is not the humane approach for the modern memoirist. The lives of the living still have to be lived. And remember – when writing stories about your life, you will also be writing about other peoples’ lives. This can have a major impact on you and them.

Risks include:

  • Legal challenges – someone may be minded to sue
  • Social challenges – if some-one has not yet told his  wife, he is homosexual – and you make no secret of the fact in your published memoirs – you are storing up difficulties for him
  • Physical danger – if you are writing about a friend living in a dangerous setting – such as a country where friendship with you as an American male is unacceptable – ostracism and worse for your friend could result.

(more…)

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The Doll (A values in action story from the Ukraine, retold for International Women’s Day 2010 by Lizzie Gates)

Once upon a time…

Paraska was living happily with her prospering parents, when her mother fell ill, and died.  But before she died, she made her husband promise to love Paraska as herself and to Paraska she gave a magic doll, saying that if she cared for the doll and kept her fed, the doll would help her no matter what the difficulty she found herself in.  The doll was to stand in the place her mother would have occupied had she lived.  This was a mother’s blessing on her deathbed. (more…)

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King Peter and Millie (from Armenia) (Names changed) (N.B. Another name for this story is ‘Nature’s Way’)

Once upon a time…

King Peter of Armenia had a beautiful daughter, Millie.  When she was born, he wanted to care and guard her so she would know nothing of the world and never love anyone but himself.  For her sole use – with only female servant and a woman teacher – he had a lovely palace built on a lonely island in the middle of a dark forbidding lake.  This palace had no windows looking outwards and only the king had a key to the outer door.  He visited her, once a week for three hours, on Sundays. (more…)

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Editors want to see a new item involving interesting personalities in an unusual context. You need to decide how your story squares with this. Editors want a sense of ‘revelation’.  And target your audience, exactly, remembering the editor represents the readers!  Your attitude throughout your brief conversation with him or her should be to stay calm, polite, humane and don’t assume your story will be used/accepted. (more…)

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Here’s a feature I wrote recently about how people with dyslexia and their employers make the best of things. Thanks to RoSPA for permission to publish.

dyslexia-feature

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Another bad night – children unsettled, no deep sleep – and the first thing you see when you come downstairs? A letter from your ex-partner.  The rush of emotion and adrenaline almost – but not quite – wipes you out.  Part of you hopes – against hope – that this ‘separation’ has all been a mistake and this is the piece of communication which is going to set everything straight.  So you sit down there in the hall and tear open the envelope.  You skim read, searching for the information you want to find.  It’s not there.  Your emotions are by now beyond control.  You can scarcely read the words on the page. If your ex-partner wants to say anything positive, you will probably miss it.  What you see – for better or worse, rightly or wrongly – are most probably: (more…)

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“Truth, naked and cold, had been turned away from every door in the village.  Her nakedness frightened the people.  When Parable found her she was huddled in a corner, shivering and hungry.  Taking pity on her, Parable gathered her up and took her home.  There, she dressed Truth in story, warmed her and sent her out again.  Clothed in story, Truth knocked again at the doors and was readily welcomed into the villagers’ houses.  They invited her to eat at their tables and warm herself by their fires.”

I first heard this oft-quoted parable from expert story-teller, Annette Simmons.  It seems to be to hold the essence of story-telling and its impact.  In terms of executive communication coaching, it demonstrates the usefulness of forgetting your ‘fear’ and accessing your own supremely powerful creative resources.

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