Patricia Hoglund's Have I Got a Story for You: A Collection of Life's Lessons is the happiest book I've read in a long time. I finished it in one sitting—but I'll remember and reread it many times more.
Hoglund's pathway to writing began in conflict, between her desire to write and the belief that she had neither talent nor anything worth saying. At mid-life she began keeping a journal, which she found "perfect" because she could write "anything that came to mind and no one would read it or put red marks on it." Later she felt prompted to share her writing with others. Through participation in Story Circle writing groups, she was encouraged to continue writing and finally to publish her work.
The stories Hoglund relates concern events and emotions familiar to nearly every woman: discovering and making time for what is important to her; watching children grow up, leave home, and begin their own lives; listening to other people's woes; knowing when not to offer advice.
Several of her descriptions made me laugh aloud. In "Shopping Nightmare," I see a reflection of my own trips to the grocery store:
"...I go to the store on a mission: get in and get out as fast as possible, with as few incidents as possible. I do not go to the store for an experience. Like the woman who made it to the celery just before I did today. She picked up at least five stalks of celery and carefully looked at them, then replaced each one and picked up another. I didn't get it. Celery is celery. Unless the tops are all curled, in which case you know it has been in the case way too long and you should find a better grade of store to shop at, celery is pretty much all the same. But somehow she felt there was the perfect stalk. I couldn't watch. I moved on to the mushrooms and came back."
I'm also partial to the description—in "Waz Up?"—of her fear that the "thumping" of the speakers behind the seat in her son's car will rearrange his internal organs so "we would never be able to locate his spleen again."
Other stories are introspective. In "The Music Plays On," Hoglund writes about "those feelings of disconnectedness" from herself and asks, "When was it that I first lost my way?" In "Place as Teacher," she contemplates thirty years of opportunities believed lost, now found. Beautifully written, these are more meditation than story. They also end, as meditations should, in hope.
If I met Patricia Hoglund, I would tell her about the woman in the grocery store who held me up for ten minutes while she filled a sack with green beans, one at a time. I would also tell her that she is a fine writer: thoughtful, insightful, optimistic, and funny; and that I'm glad she realized she has both talent and stories worth telling. And I'd say I'm recommending Have I Got a Story for You to all my friends.
Patricia Hoglund is a facilitator of Women's Story circles and conducts workshops on the power of story. She is a businesswoman, storyteller and mother of three adult children. She lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington. More information about Hoglund can be found on her website.
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