It goes away if you don't write it down

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Rick Bragg's story about his family, "All Over But the Shoutin,'" begins by simply saying, "This is not an important book."

But he wrote it anyway, because it's the story of his life and his time. He wrote it after someone told him that people forget if it isn't written down.

No one knows that better than the person who looks through the family photos and sees faces in daguerreotypes and tintypes that have no names attached.

The faces stare back without a story. You know this person was a relative, but you don't know who they were or how they are related. As the story of that person disappears, so does the story of your own past.

¤ Brown Bag Lecture: "Memories to Memoirs" by Susan de Wardt

¤ Noon Jan. 20

¤ Tread of Pioneers Museum, 800 Oak St.

¤ Free

Next week, Susan de Wardt will give an introductory workshop called "Memories to Memoirs" for people who want to write their memoirs but don't know how.

"Everyone has a story," she said. "Sometimes, people don't value their personal history.

"If they aren't famous -- if they aren't Einstein or the president -- they think they are insignificant. Everyone is significant."

Writing your story is a way of recording your time and generation for the people in the future who might wonder about the way things were or how they came to be the way they are.

"Do you think Lulita Crawford thought thousands of people would read her journals?" de Wardt said. "Probably not, but she's an important part of the Yampa Valley's history."

De Wardt says there are simple techniques to writing your life story.

The first thing to do, she said, is ask yourself why you are writing it.

"Some people write to set the record straight," de Wardt said. "Some write to instruct others. When you decide why you are writing, you will be able to choose which stories to collect."

De Wardt points to the diaries of Anne Frank.

Frank wrote down her story even though she never thought anyone would read it, and millions of people have.

After the introductory workshop de Wardt will lead as part of the Brown Bag Lecture Series at the Tread of Pioneers Museum, she plans to offer a six-week, in-depth memoir course. The class begins Jan. 25 and will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays. The course costs $125 or $85 for members of the museum.

People can sign up at the Jan. 20 workshop or call the museum at 879-2214.

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