Finding stories for your memoir

“Everyone has stories.” Maybe you’ve heard that before and know it’s true, except you can’t think of your own stories. OTHER people have stories. Anyway, why would your family care about the few memories you have? Well, your family who loves you would like to hold onto who you are and pass you on to future generations. Having your stories around would help. And you have more stories than you know…

You are from a particular time, place, and culture. You are a time capsule containing a past that your current and future family members can delight in learning about and even be inspired from. Your stories can make history meaningful and personal and enrich your family’s lives as they learn more about who you were and who you are. They may be amazed and astonished, they may be inspired, they may understand you better. They may laugh, they may cry. Don’t be surprised if they love you even more! Sharing stories can make the bonds of family – and friendship – stronger.

My last post featured ghostwriter Kim Pearson, who has helped many people produce their memoirs but also is a ghostwriter for her dog! Her book for people, Making History: How to remember, record, interpret, and share the events of your life, is a valuable aid to life writing. I think it is particularly beneficial for anyone wanting to make a collection of short stories, versus a memoir that is one long story such as dealing with a debilitating illness or traveling through Europe one summer. Kim writes in a personable way, giving advice on life writing, addressing questions and fears, and giving examples of memories and short stories–maybe the last is the most helpful. Non-writers who feel intimidated will like holding onto Kim’s hand as she leads them through this process of remembering and sharing. Kim has included timelines (ex. Economics and Politics, Social Fabric, Wars and the International Scene, Arts & Entertainment) not only to prod memory, but to include within stories so readers can feel how a story fits into a bigger picture of life during that time.

making-history-200x300The final chapter is on “The Really Big Stuff.” What were (and are) your hopes and dreams? What has been your passion in life? How did you get through bad times? What do you want to tell your children and grandchildren, or anyone else who would read your book?  Kim gives many sample questions to choose to write about. On the one hand, she reminds, “You are creating a primary source.” Which means you were an eyewitness, someone who lived during those times. What did you experience? Your stories matter as history. On the other hand, what are the lessons you have learned, what wisdom do you want to impart? Who are you, what did you think, how did life affect you? You are a unique somebody. And you have stories to share!



About moonbridgebooks

Co-author of Cherry Blossoms in Twilight, a WWII Japan memoir of her mother's childhood; author of Poems That Come to Mind, for caregivers of dementia patients; Co-author/Editor of Battlefield Doc, a medic's memoir of combat duty during the Korean War; life writing enthusiast; loves history and culture (especially Japan), poetry, and cats
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