The Power of Life Writing and Family History

Recently I was reminded again of the power of life writing. Below is a comment from an editing client who had just received a proof copy of his professionally designed book, a tribute to his father.

Looking at the completed copy, thinking about the entire effort of the past year to make the book possible, and realizing my Dad will be memorialized forever, caused a deep emotional response within me today. As I am writing this email to you, I am fighting back the tears. Sad yet happy, feeling loss but grateful, queasy about it all, yet content.

The elderly and frail father died while his story was in the cover and interior design phase. This is always a worry when writing about and for an elderly person. But the father knew about the book and fortunately his son had read parts of it to him, so he knew how much his son loved and admired him—enough to write a book about him. That’s impressive. Our consolation is that his family can hold a great and lasting tribute to a man of the times whose humble beginnings ended with great accomplishments through hard work, perseverance, and risk-taking.

It is always a heart-warming pleasure to hear the comments of people when they see the finished copies of their family story books, often the result of years of hard work writing and then going through the editing process. Every author is thrilled to see their book in print for the first time, especially a first book, like a baby being born after a long labor, but family story books are extra special. They hold great meaning, full of history and connection to the family’s past and present. They honor lives of people of personal importance. Even if some of those people were far from perfect, their stories show the progression of generations and where behaviors and thought patterns come from.

A book can be passed into future generations, unlike stories locked in someone’s mind. You do not need to have writing experience to write your family history and stories. Just start researching and writing. Ask family members to help. When you think you are finished, consider hiring an editor to smooth out the sentences and fix grammar and spelling. You can simply take the manuscript to a local copy shop or make (and pay for) as professional-looking a book as you want by hiring experts. Many companies exist to create family books, even researching and writing them for you if you have lots of money to spare. Whatever you do, don’t lose the stories!

See articles under my Resources tab above for information about publishing family-only books:

Publishing For Family Only

Publishing With Lulu.com

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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