Good, bad or outrageous, my life has been about as normal as picking blueberries on Mars. After reading my blog posts over the years, many of you have urged me to write a book. I took your suggestions to heart, and New Years Day, I began writing a memoir. Even though I’m a writer, and I have an outline, writing a memoir is difficult. We all have a story to tell, but writing a book can be overwhelming. What if you had a simple template that made writing easy and had places for photos? And when you’re done, you’d have a finished, printed book?
Would that encourage you to write your story?
I began thinking about this simple template idea after a conversation with a friend at church last week. When I told him I was writing a memoir, he said he’d always wanted to write a book about his life, but he wasn’t a writer, and the process was daunting. My friend has lived an interesting life, and there are things I imagine his grown children would love to know about him. So I went online to see if there was something to simplify the process for those who want to share their stories or capture a family member’s stories before they’re lost to dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Most of what I found are templates for writing your family tree, but one website looked interesting. AutoDotBiography. There may be others, but take a look and see what you think.
Writing a book about your life is like watching a favorite film you’ve seen more than once. A film that’s in black and white and color, grainy and clear. Not all of the scenes are pretty, and some you’ve almost forgotten. Writing a book is all consuming. Sometimes I realize I haven’t brushed my teeth that day, and there are nights I’m trying to sleep and “a line comes to me.” Before I forget it I run to my computer to write it down… One line always turns into multiple paragraphs.
After several false starts I decided to tackle something I’ve shared with less than a handful of people.
“One of them runs the back of his fingers down my bare arm. He smells like cigarettes and onions. He cocks his head and arches one eyebrow, his fingers still resting on my skin. The soldier beside him is thin and wiry, and something about his eyes tells me he’s hopped up on coffee or cocaine. Maybe both.”
Maybe I thought if I could write about it, the rest of the book would be easy.
I’d give anything if my grandmother had written down her stories with photos of herself over the years. I’m guessing your children and grandchildren might feel the same way.