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Tip: Write Like It’s 1963, Not 2013

Like an etching carved into granite, there is a permanence to the observations, words and comments that will be made, not only in your own writings, but those of others.  Because of that, even the best-intended project may be met with resistance if you don’t make known early — and often — two priorities that are likely of profound, yet perhaps unspoken, importance to your subject:  Your assurance to protect his legacy and your commitment to accurate, complete story-telling.

Protecting Legacy:   Public spotlight, especially through a website that will potentially be read by hundreds of people (including some who are total strangers) may raise understandable concerns in the mind of your about subject about how he will be perceived. I compare it to the awkwardness most people feel when they suddenly become self-aware, for example, when posing for a picture in a public setting.  At that moment, there’s a heightened sensitivity about appearances and “looking good.”  The same thing can happen when you write about someone else, even if it’s someone who loves, trusts and respects you.  So use a “reverse-angle” when proof-reading your work. Ask yourself, “Would I want someone to say this about me?” and you’ll have a starting point for protecting the legacy and reputation of your subject.

Commitment to Accurate, Complete Story-Telling: Almost equal in importance to protecting legacy is a commitment to 100% accuracy in the publishing of all stories, captions, photos and video.  In the internet era of mass media, where mistakes are routinely corrected with the update of a webpage, Facebook post, or tweet, expediency has overshadowed accuracy.  If you embrace this outlook, minor mistakes such as misspellings, wrong dates, misidentified people, and other grammatical errors may erode essential credibility and trust, not only with your readers, but your subject as well. Instead, think of yourself like a 1963 newspaper printing press rolling out news of Kennedy’s assassination.  Get it right the first time as if you have no chance to update the newspaper on the doorstep of your subscriber.

Posted in: Making of SDNT

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Tip: Where To Begin

Just a few weeks in and I’m already learning that the telling of a life story is a bemusing, multifaceted undertaking; and one that doesn’t come with a “Start Here” button.

As you prepare to write your own stories, here is a concise, yet thorough outline of things to consider before you begin.  After using it, I find myself more focused and energized because I now vividly understand how I want to approach the project and what steps need to be taken to complete it.

Tips On How To Get Started

Posted in: Making of SDNT

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Tip: Start Smart With Well Concieved Web Presence

Although writing is where I would prefer to spend most of my time, in these early days, as I establish a framework for publishing content and managing the submissions of StoriesDadNeverTold contributors, my time has been instead been occupied by other work:  Web development, creating the STNT  presence on Twitter, FB, and Pinterest, as well as executing and managing social media and email marketing.

At times, this work makes me cringe, as it’s tedious and time consuming, but despite the urge to focus solely on writing (which comes easily to most authors), it’s critical to first set-up your web presence and marketing systems (something that does not).

Otherwise, you risk creating an unmanageable volume of tasks that will take far more time to fix in in the future than if you take time now to create systems for managing them upfront.

(If this is an area where you don’t have any know-how, let friends and colleagues know you need help. You’ll be surprised how generous others can be!)

Posted in: Making of SDNT

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What If the Stories Were Never Told?

While browsing the website for the Association of Personal Historians recently, I found this piece that speculates on what if the last-known living survivor of the Titanic disaster had never been told the story of what happened that night.

Millvina Dean was just a newborn at the time of the sinking and only learned of her father’s sacrifice years later when her mother passed on the story of that tragic night.  Yet, as you can read here, the course of Dean’s life was irrevocably impacted by the events of that night, in more than obvious ways — understanding and knowledge that would have been lost for her and future descendents had the story not been told.

Although this is an admittedly dramatic example, as noted by the post’s author H. Fran Morley (Content Editor, Association of Personal Historians), “the stories from our ancestors help us to better understand who we are today. And our descendants will appreciate the stories that we capture today from our own generation.

Posted in: Making of SDNT

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Tip: Don’t Write In The Internet Time Zone

From my summer of living in Villechenour, France, a phrase stuck with me that is highly applicable to the writing of StoriesDadNeverTold:  “Avez la patience” or “have the patience.”

Especially with the internet and its hijacking of attention for all but the most disciplined of people, the value of biding one’s time and savoring an experience has been attenuated.  It’s as if our perception of time itself has been altered, and as a result, we’ve become impatient, expecting instantaneous results in all aspects of daily living.

This outlook will lead to frustration and exasperation should you not keep it in-check while gathering and writing your stories.  Instead, embrace the learning experience and understand that, as a learner, you’ll sometimes make mistakes and have to start over; that it will take time to get into a rhythm, find your voice and narrative.

Negative emotions brought on by impatience will only stunt this creative process.

Posted in: Making of SDNT

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Beach Campfire (photo)

Today Tom Jarriel and his wife, Joan, continue to enjoy retirement life, spending time at their primary residence in Florida while returning to a 2nd home near Annapolis, MD from late spring to early fall.  In this 2011  photo, Tom and Joan are seen on one of the many buninhabited islands on the inter-coastal waterway.

Posted in: Photos & Images

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Three Sons (photo)

Tom Jarriel and his wife, Joan, lived in Houston, TX, where two of their three sons were born.  Jarriel is seen here holding his son, Jeffrey. First-born son, Michael, is seen kneeling, as middle son, Stephen, braces himself in a tree.

(If you know more about the story behind this image, please contact StoriesDadNeverTold.com via our contact page, or comment in the space below!)

Posted in: Photos & Images

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Grade School (photo)

Tom Jarriel was born in 1934 in Lagrange, GA, and later moved with his family to Savannah, GA, and Shreveport, LA, where he attended Byrd High School.  This undated photo, believed to be from an elementary school yearbook, is one of the earliest images of Jarriel.

(If you know more about the story behind this image, please contact StoriesDadNeverTold.com via our contact page, or comment in the space below!)

Posted in: Photos & Images

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