Today I have ghostwriter and lifewriting coach and teacher Wayne Groner posting on how he became interested in writing memoirs and helping others write theirs. I “met” him through the Yahoo group, Lifewriters Forum and we share a similar passion. This week we are sharing our stories via each other’s blogs. You’ll see that once you start writing life stories, you can’t quit! And Wayne has turned his fun into a business helping others.
I embrace all of the reasons for writing family memoirs: personal satisfaction, set the record straight, honor family members, healing, make a permanent record, leave a legacy, and many more.
I started when my longtime friend Dorsey Levell approached me early in 2008 about the fortieth anniversary celebration planned by the Council of Churches of the Ozarks, Springfield, Missouri for the fall of 2009. He thought it would be an excellent time to write a history of the Council from his perspective. The book became a combination corporate history and memoir.
Dorsey retired in 1999 after thirty-one years as the Council’s founding executive director. He and I wrote a book that same year to help pastors and other church leaders fund ministries (we both have backgrounds in fundraising). With that book in our resume we were comfortable proposing to the Council that we write a history for its fortieth anniversary. The Council agreed to be the publisher and we agreed on payment for our work. Dorsey’s name would be in large type as the author. My name would be below his in an “as told to” line.
We did a series of fifteen recorded interviews which became the basis of a manuscript. We also interviewed more than twenty-five key players in the Council’s history. Throughout the interviews, Dorsey kept using the phrase “dumb luck or divine guidance” to refer to his successes. We turned that into the title of the book, Dumb Luck or Divine Guidance: My 31 Years with the Council of Churches of the Ozarks. Dorsey tells his story in a folksy, easy style with deeply personal accounts of his successes and failures. Readers have told us the book is like talking with Dorsey over a cup of coffee, which is great because that’s exactly what Dorsey is like.
The book was a lot of fun to do and I wanted to do more. I joined the Springfield Writers’ Guild and the Missouri Writers’ Guild to let other professionals know of my interests in writing memoirs. I started a website and a blog, had business cards printed, and ordered retractable ballpoint pens with my contact information. In 2010 I began teaching a monthly library class, “Writing Family Memoirs for Fun and Profit.” My students keep me sharp and often send me for more research.
Of all the reasons for writing family memoirs, the one I like most is that it’s fun.
Wayne E. Groner lives in Battlefield, Missouri. He is the author of three books and numerous magazine articles; a speaker, writing coach, and workshop presenter. Stop by his inspirational blog on life writing, Your Memories, Your Book.