Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

“Life and Times”: Your Memoir Will Document Both

Silhouette of person's head watching fireworks

Friends, this post was written just hours before the July 4 holiday of 2022 turned tragic. What a sad event to drive home the point that, through your memoir, you have an opportunity to add your personal documentation to a shared history.

 

After today’s fireworks, another Independence Day goes into the books. I mean that literally—Independence Day 2022 may find itself in a memoir someday. As you write your memoir and cover past decades, you may find yourself referring to holidays and current events.

Your Memoir Shapes History

Storytellers control how people remember historical events, as we’re reminded by futurist Erwin McManus’s quote that “whoever tells the best story shapes the culture” and the song in the Hamilton musical asking, “Who tells your story?” Your memoir will take its place among the chronicles of a certain time and place. When you write about your life in 1956 London or 1975 Los Angeles, your published memoir presents as valid a portrayal as any other work describing that place and time.

The pandemic is a perfect example. How could anyone whose childhood spanned the pandemic neglect to describe what life was like when businesses were shuttered, city subways empty, families unable to gather indoors? Perhaps their descendants will know that in 2020 a virus interrupted normal life, but through a memoir they’ll discover the impact on their dad or grandmother in a particular location. A memoir set in New York City will report conditions quite different from one set in rural Wyoming.

Volumes have been written about World War II, but each individual soldier has unique memories from the war. A soldier’s memoir will use the war as both a backdrop and a focal point, and in that way the memoir author will add details in color and texture to what the world knows about the war years.

Uneventful times, if there is such a thing, can slip under the radar. We’re taught in history class that Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, but what do we remember from, say, summer 1959? Offhand, I have no idea. A memoir can provide the contrast between the volatile war that preceded the 1950s and the radical changes that came with the 1960s.

Include the World At Large in Your Memoir

No one memoir will be the defining saga, the last word, about a time and place. But writing about your life is important not only to give voice to your personal experiences but also to contribute to the body of work that memorializes your era.

When you write, pay attention to what was going on in the world and how it affected your decisions, other people’s actions and everything that happened to you. Do some research, pull up some headlines and ask older friends to recall the major news of the day for you. When you write in your Write My Memoirs account, click on the “Historic Events” bar to pull up significant news stories of past decades. It’s a cool writing tool!

Include details when you describe your childhood home, the transportation you took, your city’s downtown—and the July 4 fireworks you’d attend each year. Tell the reader about your first car or cell phone, or how you wrote chain letters or went sledding on a hill that’s now paved over for parking needs.

You’re trying to tell a small story—your life. But when you’re a memoir author, you’re also reporting first-hand on the events you’ve witnessed. Taken together, the memoirs written on that era form the historic narrative of its life and times. Don’t underestimate your contribution to that history.

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Then just set up a chapter and start writing your memoir. Don’t worry about rules. There are no rules to writing your memoir; there are only trends. These trends are based on techniques and features identified in current top-selling memoirs. At best, they’re the flavor of the month. If you’re capturing your life in print for your family, for your own gratification or to inspire readers, rather than aiming to set off Hollywood screenplay bidding wars, these trends don’t even apply to you. You’ll write the memoir that suits you best, and it will be timeless, not trend-driven.There are no rules, but there are four steps:

1. Theme/framework
2. Writing
3. Editing/polishing
4. Self-publishing

You’ve researched this, too, and you’ve been shocked at the price for getting help with any one of those steps, much less all four. That’s because most memoir sites promise to commercialize your work. They’ll follow a formula based on current memoir trends, because they want to convince you that they can turn your memoir into a best-seller. These sites overwhelm you with unnecessary information not to help you, the memoir author, but to address Search Engine Optimization (SEO) algorithms so they can sell more.

That’s not what we do at Write My Memoirs. Our small community of coaches, writers and editors are every bit as skilled as any you’ll find, and we charge appropriately for their expertise and the time they’ll spend helping you craft a compelling, enjoyable read. But you won’t pay an upcharge for other websites’ commercialization, the marketing that follows, and the pages of intimidating “advice.” You can sell your book if you like—we have ISBNs available for you—but our organic process of capturing your story takes a noncommercial path.

If you want help with any or all of the four steps above, choose from our services or save money by selecting one of our packages. If you’d like to talk about what’s right for you, schedule a call. One year from now, you can be holding your published memoir in your hand. And at that point, it will be a big deal!