Too many people put off writing their memoirs till its too late. Too many others dont do it at all. Does one of these sound like you?
Why write my memoirs? Im not a somebody!
Why write my memoirs now? Im still living my life!
Everyone is someone to someone
The answer to the first argument is simple: Memoirs are not only for publication to the general reading public. Memoirs are also for your own family (and perhaps your close friends and business associates). One of my current work projects, as a freelance writer/editor, is editing the memoirs of a fellow who wants to preserve his history for his children and their descendants. He has written a smallish booksince he has no thought of publishing it commercially, it doesnt need to be a standard or specified size. He tells what there is to tell and then stops.
While he had a rather colorful childhood and came from a family that is fairly well known in industrial circles, his story is not one that would ever catch the publics fancy. But he never meant it to be that. He wrote it for his son, daughter, stepdaughter, and extended family. They unquestionably will want to read about their colorful relativethough the truth is, being related, they would want to read it even if his story were more mundane.Your family, their descendants, and perhaps your friends and associates as well would like to read your story.
Unless you do plan to publish your memoirs, revising and updating them is a very simple matter in this computer age. Even back in the typewriter era, adding chapters and simply revising the ending was not a major undertaking. But now its easy-peasy, and theres no reason not to at least get started on your memoirs now, knowing you can add on to them periodically as your life continues to change.Whether you show them to your family now or wait till youre older and youve added on to them multiple times is your decision to make. But at least get started. Where to start? What to include?Your memoirs can include your familys history, if you dont know that much about your forbears and have only a chapters worth of info and stories about them. Or if you are the repository of a great deal of family history and information, consider writing two books: your familys history and your own story.Focus on items your family will relate toespecially the kids. Begin at the beginningwith your childhood, including where you were born, where you went to school, how you spent your summers, favorite games and pastimes. Contrast then and nowhow things are done today. How did you celebrate birthdays? How did your family celebrate holidays? What were your parents like? Who was your best friend? Who was your favorite relative outside your immediate family, and why?
Include not only facts but feelings.Talk about your first day of school, favorite teachers, graduation, childhood ambitions, your first crush, your first serious boyfriend, your first car, your first bike. What mischief did you get into? How did your parents discipline you? Were they strict or lenient? In other words, put lots of human interest into your story.Include college, any military service or Peace Corps service, serious traveling, or other involvement between leaving school and starting work. Were you at Woodstock? Where were you when JFK was killed? When the Challenger blew up? What was your first job? Did you change careers in the course of your worklife? Why? How did you meet your husband? Talk about your wedding in some detail. If youve been married more than once, talk about each one, and how and why your first marriage(s) ended.Talk about your children, of course. And memorable vacation trips youve takenincluding your honeymoon, naturally. To be continuedNo, your life isnt ending. Hopefully you still have a long way to go. But write it all down now, knowing you can add to it and add to it and add to it some more. Writing your memoirs now is not a signal that you think your life is drawing to a close. Thats a superstitious viewpoint. But its sensible to write the facts down before time erases the memoriesand just in case some health issue does intervene.
Think of all the fun youll have rereading your own life story when you celebrate your hundredth birthday. And think of the pleasure your family will have in reading your story too. As well, if you write it down the way it happened, youll know your family has the straight story when, finally, you are gone. Think of it as an insurance policy against being misremembered or misunderstood.Start now!Cynthia MacGregor is the author of 54 conventionally published books and over 30 e-books. In addition, she is the proprietor of a website for single parents and the producer and host of Solo Parenting, a TV show for single parents airing in the West Palm Beach viewing area. Busy and happy, she says, "There is no one in the world I'd want to trade lives with."