Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

Writers' Corner

August 26, 2012

Perhaps you should write a memoir

By Gerald Warfield | Special to the Index

Have you ever wished you had known your grandparents better, a favorite aunt, or even your parents? Wouldn’t it be nice to sit down and have them speak to you? Tell it to you like it really was?

 Maybe someday there will be family members who wonder about you the same way. In the future people will think back to their childhood, just as they do today. Why not leave them a legacy? Tell them who you were, the problems you wrestled with and what the world was really like.  

A memoir is different from a family history or genealogy. Genealogies are fact-based, require documentation and can involve a lot of research. If you want to write a genealogy, we have a fine genealogist here in Palo Pinto County, Sue Siebert, who can help you get started. But memoirs are different. They are anecdotal, require little research, and can be done for fun without consulting anything more than your own memory.

Famous people write their memoirs all the time. The Duke of Windsor’s memoirs were published in 1999, almost 50 years after they were written, and long after both the Duke and Duchess were deceased. Of course, not all of us had to give up the throne of England to marry the woman we love (who was a Warfield, by the way), but that’s not the point. You may not be writing because you are famous, but because you want to speak to future generations. Someone is going to want to know what life was like on the farm, in the city, or what problems you had to face.

There’s even a website to help you get started, http://memorywritersnetwork.com, but meanwhile, here’s some advice. Don’t try to be literary. Just write like you speak. Your voice will be one of the interesting things about your memoir. Don’t hide or gloss over controversial issues.

Everyone has their own demons, and it’s a tremendous comfort to people to know that others had to wrestle with their demons, too. And besides, people are a lot more accepting these days. Why, that controversial part you decide to put in may be the most interesting part of your memoir.

Know that people get bored easily. If you write a whitewashed account of how you were a good little boy or girl, you won’t have a very interesting book. Also important, don’t be preachy. The purpose of your memoir is not to convince future generations that you were right. It’s to tell them the way you saw and experienced life. Allow future generations to feel differently than you.

An important part of your memoir should be photos. If you have pictures of the people you discuss (including yourself) taken during the time you are telling about, be sure to include them.  Photos add life to a tale, and they may also jog your memory about other events you want to mention.

And lastly, publish your memoir. In these days of self-publishing it is so easy to bring out a book. All you have to do is save it to a computer file. Print up a number of copies and distribute them to people in your family. Someone will be very glad you did.

Gerald Warfield is an award-winning writer of fantasy and science fiction. See his website at www.geraldwarfield.com.

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