The popularity of genealogy mixed with a little history and a lot of personal experience seems to have resulted in the hot topic of memoir writing. Look at the best-seller lists of books these days and you’re sure to see a memoir or two amongst them. People like to read about other people’s lives – to learn, to compare, to be inspired, to heal, to satisfy our inherent nosiness… I mean curiosity. It’s easy for famous people to find readers for their life stories, but for us “everyday” people our readers will usually be our families and also our own selves because in writing our stories we reflect on our life and its meaning, lessons learned (or not!); we feel again the joys as well as sorrows and have the capacity to see with hindsight how our experiences shaped us. Writing our stories can be great therapy! Do you have a memoir inside you? I know you do!
Memoir writing workshops now abound. Libraries might have writing groups like this one in Harker Heights, TX, or host seminars (see Carol LaChappelle if you’re in the midwest), and online writing groups exist (see StoryCircle Network). Of course, many lifestory writing books await you. Take your pick, there are many ways to get inspired and get started.
For those interested in casual writing, it’s easy! Take a class, get tips online, don’t worry just spill it out! If writing for your family, do have a friend edit for understanding – you want your stories to make complete sense to the great-great-grandchildren you’ll probably never know. For those interested in creating a great read possibly leading to publication, you’ve got some real learning to do – you’ll need to work backwards in a sense, determining how best to interest your audience (whether family or buying public) and then writing what will please your reader instead of just yourself. Either way, stick your toes in the water and wade in!