Mining My Past by Irene Latham

A few months ago I attended a workshop with middle grade author Candice Ransom. Something she said kind of changed my life:

"Go back to yourself as a source."

Maybe you are one of those writers who uses your own life experiences all the time in your writing, but I am not. I love the whole imaginative aspect of writing -- love writing about other people and places, more for discovery than anything else.

Of course, when writing for a young audience, I revisit the younger me to see what she might say in the situation, or how she might react. But to use my own history, my actual life story??

I resolved then and there with stars and smilies in my notebook to mine my past.

For me, this involves pushing past fear. I have worked hard to forget a lot of things that happened to me. And while instinctively I know this honest, raw place is where a writer's best writing comes from, it's also scary.

But I'm doing it.

I started by getting CREATE YOUR LIFE STORY by Marelisa Fabrega. I'll be responding to those prompts all year long.

And I enrolled in a local 12 week THE ARTIST'S WAY course -- something I've always wanted to do. Writing is spiritual practice for me, and I know that this is a program that will take me deeper.

I'm reminded of a quote from UNBROKEN by Laura Hillenbrand. It's a footnote from one of Louie's crewmates:

 "Somehow, Pillsbury survived the war, a fistful of medals and a permanent limp testifying to all he'd endured. "It was awful, awful, awful," he said through tears sixty years later. "... If you dig into it, it comes back to you. That's the way war is."

Who knows what words and stories this year will hold? I'm excited to find out!


  1. Inspiring words and a very inspiring life story in UNBROKEN. Thanks for sharing Irene!

  2. I've never mined my life, either--I'll be interested to hear how this goes for you!


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