“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.” ― L.M. Montgomery, The Story Girl
Crafting Your Memoir
Everyone has a story to tell...including you! Your family will love reading about your life and adventures for years to come. Enjoy this article written by Janet Litherland on a fun way to write your memoir.
Crafting A Memoir
What is a memoir? Let's begin by stating what a memoir is not: It is not a genealogy--an outline of ancestors; nor is it, in the strict sense, an autobiography--a chronological account of a person's life. It is a collection of memories; hence, the word--memoir. Agatha Christie's memoir was titled, An Autobiography, but she wasn't particularly pleased with the title. She wrote in the Preface: "Autobiography is too grand a word. It suggests a purposeful study of one's whole life. ... What I want is to plunge my hand into a lucky dip and come up with a handful of assorted memories." That's what you, the writer, must aim for--a lucky dip.
You may not be a famous writer (yet), or wealthy or powerful; and your memoir may never "sell" to the book market. That doesn't matter. Your life is important. It is part of history. No one else will have lived exactly as you lived; nor have viewed life from your perspective. Your children, grandchildren, and maybe someone you'll never know--someone born 50 or more years from now--will be glad you wrote your memoir. Don't you wish you had such a memory book written by your great-grandfather, your grandmother, or even your mother?
A few years ago, I compiled my book of memories. It was a private publication, intended only for friends and family. My adult children treasure it. I did not begin with, "I was born on ..." and write to the bitter end with boring chronology. I divided it into events, such as "World War II--A Child's-Eye View," "My Cooking" (I'm a terrible cook!), "Things I Want to Do Before I Die," and many more. My children learned some things they never knew about me in "Crushes, Near Misses, and Love."
As you begin to write, think about stories and incidents rather than dates and places. Consider values, beliefs, opinions and quirky little habits. Think of your life as a child's coloring book--all of the pictures and stories are there in outline form; they only need to be completed with your word-crayons. To jump-start your memories, gather your photos, letters, certificates and other documents, sort them, and make notes. Write simple descriptions of special memories such as "My Best Friend" or "Why I Love to Dance." Perfection and organization will come later.
This is a big project. You won't complete it in a few weeks. Maybe not even in a few months. But it will be your most important writing project. Ever. So pick up your word-crayons and begin coloring!
Janet Litherland is the author of the novels, Chain of Deception and Discovery In Time, as well as 10 nonfiction books, several collections of music/drama-related scripts, and numerous articles and stories for national publications. As former associate editor of Florida Hotel & Motel Journal, she contributed 78 feature articles to that magazine. She also has taught college extension courses in creative writing and has served as a seminar leader for writers' conferences. For more information, please visithttp://www.janetlitherland.com
Great Resources to Help You Craft Your Memoir
Life History Videos
Here's a very creative and meaningful way to capture the memories and life stories of the people you love.
(Take a few minutes to watch the short video . . . it will leave you feeling very inspired!)
A Downloadable Life Story Workbook
Memorygrabber is a 321 page downloadable lifestory workbook. It is ideal for writing an autobiographyor for getting an aging parent or grandparent to open up and, finally, get those cherished family stories preserved for the ages.
This Fun-to-Fill-Out, Downloadable, Fill-in-the-Blank Autobiographical Workbook!