Stories Of Summer : Why We Write by Dianne Nelson

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We write because we want to remember.

We write because we had writing assignments in school and kind of liked them.

We write because we want to tell our stories.

We tell our stories to our children because they foster a connection between the lives we lived and the lives they are living now.

Our stories define us. They connect us. They become part of what we leave behind.
That’s why we write.

My high school English teacher encouraged my writing. She shared with me the most wonderful quote that still, twenty years later, rings in my head. “We write because the skin forgets.” I don’t remember the rest of that quote. I’ve searched for it many times. Apparently it never got noticed by Google. Still, that moment resonated with me with such clarity that I can still picture that conversation. I can see the classroom, her suit, the color of my desk, the bulletin board—everything is preserved in my memory. The gist of the meaning is that writing encapsulates and defines the feelings that we experience. It makes something tangible (like a hug or a touch or an emotion) so concrete that we remember it, long after we’ve forgotten the actual feel of it on our skin. I love that idea.

So how does this relate to scrapbooking?

For many scrapbookers, this year is the year of Story. Often with our art, it’s the story that comes first. We want to tell the stories of our lives. There are a lot of beautiful scrapbook pages being created every day that showcase beautiful products and amazing techniques. But my favorite pages are the ones that tell the story. I firmly believe that there are no ordinary stories in our lives. Our stories don’t really care about whether or not you used the latest and coolest products and techniques to tell those stories. They just want to be told; they want to be remembered. Scrapbooking is one of the best ways we have to preserve and pass on those stories.

Summer is coming, and with the sunshine comes what feels like a fresh start. As a mom with school-aged kids, I live my life on their timeline. Even though I am no longer in school, I am ready to shuck my books and my long pants and I look forward to loungy days with no real schedule. It’s summer (!), and for me, my goal for summertime is to build memories with my children. It’s the perfect time to try new experiences and go new places. It’s the best time to write new stories.

In our family, our Summer Stories have been a rich part of our lives. We’ve met Mickey Mouse. We’ve been in jail in the 1800’s. We’ve seen some pretty amazing natural wonders like spouting geysers and magnificent redwoods. We’ve flown kites at the beach and raced the surf. We explore and discover—not just the world around us, but our own relationships with each other. This summer, our plans include the quintessential family road trip; we are driving from our home in Oregon to see family in the mid-west. Along the way we plan to visit Yellowstone again, see Mt. Rushmore and possibly do some rock hounding, among other things. It will be good fodder for more terrific stories in the history of our family.

I am already looking forward to writing down the stories we’ll create this summer—from backyard plays to meeting new family members to learning new ways to get along as we are stuck in the car for more than eight hours. It will definitely be a summer filled with new adventures!

Anaïs Nin says “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.

I write to tell my children my stories.

I write because nothing brings me more joy as a mother than feeling that wonderful connection with my children because I shared with them my stories, and in that moment, we understand each other. We’ve connected on an intimate level.

I write because I want to give them something of myself.

I write to record our history together.

I write because the skin forgets.

ABOUT DIANNE : Dianne K. Nelson loves to write about her life, her kids, and what it's like to be a busy mom balancing, work, life, and passions. She's been teaching papercrafting classes at a local store for the past 4 years, and scrapbooking her personal history for the past 12 years. She loves the smell of an ATG gun in the morning and has been appointed the family photographer for all major family gatherings. Her future plans include documenting the extraordinary details of her family's life through her blog and in her scrapbook pages; she's also working on developing ideas for a book. Her six word memoir is "Everything is better when I'm singing."

18 thoughts

  1. Molly Irwin

    2010-06-25 01:09:16 -0400

    love this. thank you Diane.

  2. Lisa

    2010-06-25 01:10:17 -0400

    Love what you wrote about stories. I have been putting off telling stories that need to be told before i forget them. Your post was just the kick in the pants that i needed to encourage me to tell them before i forget them. Thank you!

  3. Mollie Cox Bryan

    2010-06-25 01:36:26 -0400

    What a lovely post. I've often thought similarly. Scrapbooking is just another form of storytelling.

  4. Monika Wright

    2010-06-25 02:19:38 -0400

    I had forgotten that I actually liked to write until I began scrapbooking a few years ago. That's not to say that it is a talent of mine, it's just that I do it. And because I do it, I get to tell the stories of our life in layouts, mini albums, and little notebooks that I try to write down unforgettable {but I know I will if I don't write them down} kid quotes. Thank you for sharing your thoughts in such lovely words.

  5. Johanna

    2010-06-25 02:25:22 -0400

    Thank you for this reminder to simply write it down! Inspired by the Stories of Summer you are sharing with us, I decided to have my own personal summer feature as well and collect small bits of what summer means to me. I started with a tiny collection of summer photos I put together browsing my iPhoto library and last night I just wrote down some little childhood memories I have of summertime … simply starting each sentence with "I remember", and letting it flow.

  6. Jeannette

    2010-06-25 03:05:24 -0400

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!!!! Thank you!!!!!!

  7. Karen

    2010-06-25 03:06:50 -0400

    Thanks for sharing this. Love the quotes - I am so grateful for the written word that gives us a glimpse of our ancestors.

  8. Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams

    2010-06-25 03:11:30 -0400

    Beautiful. I love those quotes - definitely writing them down.

  9. dawn

    2010-06-25 04:55:53 -0400

    This was perfect for today. When I scrapbook the first thing I start with is my story, love stories! I'm always writing notes all over the house to rememeber things of our days and so do my kids. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Michele H.

    2010-06-25 05:36:13 -0400

    your words are perfection & one of my favorite posts to date. thank you for sharing.

  11. Karryn Anderson

    2010-06-25 06:14:39 -0400

    Wow, That was beautiful. Thank you so much. And keep writing!

  12. Lisa

    2010-06-25 09:42:51 -0400

    Lovely post...thanks for reminding all of us to REMEMBER!!!!!

  13. Fanny

    2010-06-25 09:45:14 -0400

    Love this post, love this quote. I'll keep it for my personal quote collection. Thanks Dianne, thanks Ali. Always inspiring.

  14. Fanny

    2010-06-25 09:56:21 -0400

    If you allow me, I'd love to quote one of my favorites authors, HENRI NOUWEN, called "The Satisfaction of Writing":The deepest satisfaction of writing is precisely that it opens up new spaces within us of which we were not aware before we started to write. To write is to embark on a journey whose final destination we do not know. Thus, creative writing requires a real act of trus. We have to say to ourselvesm "I do not yet know what I carry in my heart, but I trust it will emerge as I write." Writing is like giving away the few loaves and fishes one has, in trust they will multiply in the giving. Once we dare to "give away" on paper the few thoughts that come to us, we start discovering how much is hidden underneath... and gradually come in touch with our own riches." Hope you like it.

  15. Corey Acton

    2010-06-25 12:31:43 -0400

    I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I agree that the story is why we scrapbook. I see pages with lots of product, one small picture, and no words. Those pages are beautiful, but don't seem to mean much (to me anyway). I like embellished pages, but am realizing that it's so much more important to get the stories written down than to have beautiful scrapbook pages. I'm still trying to figure out how to get them all recorded, but I definitely agree with what you've written and written so beautifully.

  16. Jenn

    2010-06-25 13:30:57 -0400

    There was a writing manual published in the late 1960s entitled "Use Words Because the Skin Forgets." Perhaps that's where the quote came from?

  17. Fanny

    2010-06-25 20:31:50 -0400

    I agree with you Corey! I feel the same way.

  18. dawn

    2010-06-26 09:24:42 -0400

    I had a high school English teacher, my favorite ever, who got me writing and encouraged me greatly. I am so thankful for blogging, because it got me writing again.

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