An Interview with NAMW’s Featured Member for March 2011, Kristine Woodworth
Kristine: I am working on a collection of personal essays and a bit of poetry which I hope will eventually coalesce into my life story. As a part of this project, I am also writing a Legacy Letter (also known as an Ethical Will), which is turning into a near book-length rumination on my values, life lessons and wisdom, such as it is.
NAMW: If you could imagine the title of your story—what would it be?
Kristine: I imagine the title to be something that reflects my lifelong quest for meaning and purpose – a six-word memoir I wrote some time ago is a good working title: Still Trying to Figure Life Out.
NAMW: What helps you to get your writing done—for instance—a writing schedule, taking a class, reading?
Kristine: A writing class with a wonderful Cincinnati group, Women Writing for a Change, has proven to be my greatest motivator. Supportive fellow writers and a weekly deadline – can’t beat it.
NAMW: What are your five favorite books—okay, you can make it a little longer if you need to.
Kristine: My favorite book from childhood is Little Women (of course I fancied myself a Jo – didn’t we all?) My reading now includes memoir, personal essays, other non-fiction and the occasional novel. Recent favorites include The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (much better than the highly touted Freedom), The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, High Tide in Tucson by Barbara Kingsolver (a terrific book of essays, even better than The Poisonwood Bible), anything by Anna Quindlen, Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Pollan, Thomas Friedman or David Brooks.
NAMW: Is there anyone who does not want you to write your memoir? Why not?
Kristine: Not that I know of…but I haven’t told everyone about it either!
NAMW: Talk about who the audience is for your memoir. Be brief and concise.
Kristine: At this point I foresee an audience of just my family, primarily my two children, and probably not until they are a bit older. My purpose is to leave them something that will help them to understand me as a person in a way that children don’t generally understand their parents.
NAMW: What is the most significant turning point in your life?
In 1979 I graduated college and decided to leave my hometown of Tucson to take a job in Cincinnati. I didn’t think too much about it at the time – I had a good offer that included grad school and it seemed like a jolly adventure. I was sure I’d be back in my rightful place in the desert by 1981. But things happened, as things do, and my anticipated two-year stay turned into 30+ years living 2000 miles from my family and to an unexpected adult life as a Midwesterner. It changed everything.
NAMW: Do you have a blog or other online location where you frequently post your writing? If so, what is the URL/web address/location.
Kristine: I have a blog for my personal history/publishing business, at www.beyondthetrees.net, where my business partner and I feature topics related to family history, memory keeping, story-telling and self-publishing. I am planning to launch a new blog on empty-nest topics in the near future.
I am the co-founder and co-owner of Beyond the Trees, a personal history and publishing business devoted to helping every person tell their story. We conduct oral histories, publish individual and collaborative tribute and memory books, edit and publish novels, memoir and anthology, teach personal history and legacy letter workshops and generally coax, cajole and beg everyone we know to write some stuff down before it’s too late.
I started my career in business, with a degree in Marketing from the University of Arizona and an MBA from the University of Cincinnati. Twenty years in marketing research honed my interviewing techniques and taught me how to find the story in a stack of data tables. Now I find the story in other people’s lives – much more interesting.
With two boys in college, my Cincinnati nest includes just me and my husband. We hope to spend ever-increasing lengths of time in sunnier, warmer climes in future years.
Twitter Feed: @powerofstories
Congratulations on being named NAMW Member of the Month! You have a very interesting story . I am intrigued with your business, Beyond the Trees. It seems to me personal history is a delicate topic for many of us and to provide a service to “coax” people to tell their stories seems very relevant. So BRAVO for filling this need! Even though you say your family is your intended audience, I can see a memoir- in –the making that would have a wider appeal. I’m sure your story will reveal itself over time. Wishing you success and enjoyment along the way.
How old is older?