Katrina Stonoff

The Wealth of a 10-year-old

Ever try drinking from a firehouse?That’s how Allison K. Williams describes the workshop does with Dinty Moore.

RYWMemoirSmall2022She is SO not kidding. You can’t sip from a firehouse. The blast of water smacks you onto the pavement. Not that I would know.

But I do know how it feels to lie on the sidewalk in a sodden T-shirt, blinking blearily at the sun. I know this because I just finished Rebirth Your Book: Memoir Large and Small. Soo much information. Soo many great tips. Soo much to do now. Soo much overwhelm. Soo much inspiration.

Dinty started us every morning with a prompt. The first day, he encouraged us to think about ourselves at age 10 and how that self might be surprised at who we became and/or how we live. 

As you may know, I’m currently writing a memoir about my relationship with my judgmental parents (good people but unable to show me love and approval), so I spend a lot of time with painful memories. It was interesting to see what burbled up under Dinty’s instruction.

My ten-year-old self would have thought I am rich.

My home is more than three times the size of my childhood home. Dad parked our aging vehicles in a carport. I park my brand new SUV in a three-car garage. My sisters and I shared rooms. When we had guests, Mom and Dad moved onto the pull-out couch in the family room. My children have their own space, and we also have a guest room. In addition, my husband and I each have an office, separate from our master bedroom suite. We have four full bathrooms, not one-and-a-half. My clothes are purchased new, never handed down, and made from expensive fabrics: wool, silk, linen.

But my ten-year-old self wandered in the vastness of Alaska and the western US, Canada, and Mexico. She spent weeks at a time roaming woods, wading streams, climbing mountains, and walking trails, with no commitments other than “Come back before dark.” She had fresh sourdough pancakes with wild blueberry syrup, stew cooked over an open fire, hours at a time to read and reread her favorite stories. She had singing around the campfire, harmony at the piano.

She had an almost infinite amount of time stretching ahead of her, time to become whatever she wanted. She could spend an afternoon following the path of a single ant. Spend the day pouring water over a mound of dirt, over and over, to see how water shaped the earth. No pressure to produce. No looming deadlines. No concept of her life ending.

My 10-year-old self was the wealthy one.

unnamedhighly recommend Rebirth Your Book. Allison and Dinty are doing another virtual intensive in May, focused on publishing and craft.

Or if you want to travel, they’ll be in Costa Rica in March and Tuscany, Italy, in October.

Heck, I might even join you in Tuscany!


Categories: Writing Memoir