On August 11th, I spent a wonderful Sunday afternoon with fifty-five members of the Writers’ Alliance of Gainesville where we talked about the many approaches to writing life stories and how the one taken should reflect the author’s loves, passions, hobbies, and so forth.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I revealed that I was an LSU Tiger, and amazingly, the many UF Gators in the audience allowed me to stay. They must have really wanted to know more about committing their lives to paper. I loved the email I received from Anne Marie Mattison that evening. To encourage just one person to write her life story is why I do what I do. Thanks, Anne Marie.

It was truly a pleasure to be in the audience today at the Gainesville library to hear you speak about “Writing Your Life”…I learned so much from you. Your tips and hints were wonderful and have given me the push I need to write. I simply want to write whatever comes into my head and see where it takes me…Thank you for helping me get back in the saddle and continue writing. I gave it up about 10 years ago but am now capable of trying again.

Anne Marie Mattison

To check out the Writers’ Alliance of Gainesville and read more about our time together, click here. Many thanks to my husband Bob and our friend, Amanda Schlachter, for helping with the book sales.


We had a fun time, and group members wrote many amazing responses to George Ella Lyon’s poem, “Where I’m From.”  Here is a sampling of their writing they gave me:

I am a product of many lives, some whom took unexpected twists and turns. Born into springtime dew, living now in autumn’s swelter, not a native but no longer considered a transplant. My roots span continents and time streams. Born in the middle of the 20th century, one arm reaches back to my grandparents in the 19th, one reaches forward to yet unborn grandchildren who’ll see the 22nd century. – Darlene Marshall (

I’m from acadamia, rational thinking, do what’s right. I don’t fight, I go-along, adapt, do what others want. Is that me? Really? Now I’m alone. I can be who I want to be. Who am I? I like people, though I learned to be myself, do for myself, keep to myself. Can I learn to share, to give, to take charge? – Anonymous Writers’ Alliance of Gainesville member

The year the locusts came my father threw the bucket of paint against the house. Anger and buzzing live in my head like bees swarming, making money, making memories. -Rick

I am from southern waters. From moss and live oaks where Sundays mean dressing up and heading into cathedrals. I am from back porches where live Cajun music plays accordians, guitars, and triangles. I am from bayous and gulfs where salt and freshwater fish jump out the water across glistening sunlit ripples. So, drop a line, drown a worm, and laissez the bon temps rouler. -J Boulet III

Where I am from? I could tell you the place. But I don’t want to tell you from where my heart became what it is today. Because I feel that my heart, and everything that is in it belongs to me. And it isn’t anybody else’s business. -Anonymous Writers’ Alliance of Gainesville member

I am from lessons–piano lessons to achieve and please. I am from volleyball lessons to learn coordination so I can dance and please a man. So don’t hit the ball too hard. I am from painting lessons where I knew I could not please. – Anonymous Writers’ Alliance of Gainesville member

I am from a mother I never knew and a family I hardly knew. I am from city folk and country living; from Yankee accents and Southern manners. I am from dysfunction, fear of lack and love of extravagance. I am from writers who did not write and artists who hid their talents. I am from flat lands and salt waters. – Anonymous Writers’ Alliance of Gainesville member

I am from the loving heart of my mother, the working strong hands of my father, and the etching of my God in heaven. His etchings are unreasonable. – Andy Mike

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