Families and their stories are comic, messy, tragic, and unique. Writing them down can be illuminating, comforting and healing, even if you opt never to share them with anyone else. Or you may be inspired to create a record in one form or another that your present and future family members will treasure. Putting together a family history from boxes full of ephemera and a head full of jumbled memories can feel daunting. But the beauty is, you can start anywhere. Captioning photos is a great first step, before the stories of the people in the pictures are forgotten.
In this series of workshops, writer Mary Fairhurst Breen will guide you with simple prompts to start writing your family story, one anecdote at a time. You will take away a few stories in a special notebook provided by us. You might go home and write some more. You might want to pursue a bigger project, like a photo story book, digital recording, or even a memoir.
Please bring a few photos if you can find them (if not, no worries!)
- You with a relative of a different generation
- A family trip
- A family tradition, celebration, or holiday
- You at some point in the past surrounded by nature
Please bring your preferred writing instruments, a notebook will be provided.
About Mary Fairhurst Breen
Mary Fairhurst Breen is a Toronto writer whose memoir, Any Kind of Luck at All, was published in 2021. It began as a personal project with an intended audience of two - her daughters. Then it grew. Mary’s next book is an oral history collection called Pride and Persistence: Stories of Queer Activism, written for middle-grade readers. She is a big fan of stories about people you’ve never heard of. She has written first person and opinion pieces for the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Chatelaine, Briarpatch, This Magazine and CBC. Find out more on her website.
Mary Fairhurst Breen portrait courtesy of Maggie Knaus