“There’s no such thing as a long time ago. There’s only memories that mean something, and memories that don’t.” –William, This is Us
This quote from last night in the network television show, This Is Us, really resonated with me. As a writer, I often reach back in time to those memories that mean something to me and I write about them.
All of my books are based on true stories that are also treasured memories. When I wrote the original story of “The Button Box” in 2001, my intention was to write about my family’s button box so that my children would know about it and also know some of our family history. Little did I realize when I submitted it for the local community literary awards competition, that it would win first place in the “Personal Memoir” category and touch the hearts of so many people.
After “The Button Box” was printed in the Kalamazoo Gazette newspaper (in Kalamazoo, Michigan) on Christmas Day of 2001, people shared my story of my memories of our button box with family and friends across the country. One local shop owner loved it so much that she had a framed copy of the newspaper story in her antique store for years!
People wrote me letters and cards for four years after the story ran in the newspaper. Remember, this was back before everyone had personal computers and cell phones and when letter writing was still commonplace.
They wrote in their letters about how my little story had made them remember special times with their own mothers and grandmothers. They told me how “The Button Box” evoked memories of looking through their family button boxes and how reading the story motivated them to talk with other family members about their memories. Many people encouraged me to turn my story into a book.
My second book, “Which Came First?” was written as a tribute to my maternal grandmother. She had passed away and writing about her was a part of my grieving process. I kept writing and writing as thoughts and memories of her flooded my heart and mind.
During the year that we worked on “Which Came First?”, illustrator Vicki Guess and I would meet and I would tell her about my grandmother and the farm. I painted word pictures for Vicki from my memories of my grandmother. From those word pictures, she was able to create illustrations for our second book which were not only fun, but included many details from my memories…those memories that meant something to me.
My new book, “The Day The Turkey Came To School”, is also based on my memories of something that really happened. This story is different from the others because it is about a more recent memory of something special that happened one day when my daughter was a little girl and I was driving her to school. While part of the story is fiction, my daughter and I both remember the day there actually was a turkey who came to school!
Memories are powerful…especially the good ones. Perhaps that’s why we hold onto them for so long. I love that I have written stories which bring back memories for people and also give them the opportunity to create new ones with their children and grandchildren.
Author’s note: Books may be ordered on my author website at janetseverhull.com and on amazon.com