Monday, December 8, 2008

Memoirs

Today a friend of mine handed me a copy of an article she found in Readers Digest about writing memoirs, "The Story of Your Life," by Joe Kita. You've probably read a few memoirs yourself. I've read some of those mentioned in the article such as The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes, and Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love.

The article is well worth reading. There are some excerpts from a few memoirs at http://www.rd.com/your-america-inspiring-people-and-stories/5-extra-memoir-excerpts/article112521.html. The whole article is found in the January 2009 issue.

We don't have to be special to write our memoirs. If you consider most of the great fiction of the past fifty years, it's about ordinary people trying to live their lives. If you consider your own life, there is a story to tell. You don't need to be a survivor of a tragic experience, or someone who has achieved great heights. All you need to do is share your life in writing. This can be a legacy to your children, grandchildren, or even a niece or nephew. Another close friend of mine has been keeping a journal since she was in middle school. She plans to leave these journals to her niece. Her life, while not particularly exciting, is rich with history nonetheless. She came of age during the Vietnam War, protests, and Woodstock. She was part of history and because of those journals, her memories are archived forever.

Oftentimes, young people don't care about what happened fifty years ago, until it's too late to ask their relatives who lived during that period. Write your story and bequeath it to your loved ones. If you were born in the 1940's, you grew up before their was television. Imagine your great grand children living in a world without television. Did the milkman deliver milk to your house when you were a kid? Mine did. I remember coming home from school on winter afternoons to find the bottles had exploded and frozen cream oozed down the sides.

Start writing before you forget. You may find that your journals can also provide you with fodder for your next novel.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting. My book was a collection of memoirs.
    Recently began one about my father, the firstborn American son of an immigrant Italian family. He was born in 1999.

    This past weekend I began thinking of my grandmother Decker's bread pudding. It was simple, elegant on the tongue, and was the finishing touch on years of our dinners (she lived with us). I didn't have it! Calls to cousins produced the recipe. Now it is safe and in the hands of all who wanted it.

    The history of our families, recorded in journals and diaries are like insects suspended in amber. I urge my neighbor and dear friend, a real Florida cracker who grew up in a big, rowdy family here in the swamp, to record the stories she has told me through the years. She is ill, and busy with other things, but I need to sit her down with a tape recorder, I think. I have offered to help her write them down for her, but it never gets done.

    Yes - the milkman delivered real milk and real cream rose to the top out of the bottle in cold weather (New York).

    But Penny - do you remember the ice man in summer (who was the coal man in the fall)?
    The big barn at the stable where I took riding lessons was once an ice house for all of Staten Island. The ice from the frozen ponds of the Clove Lakes string was harvested and kept there, packed in straw.

    May
    May Lattanzio
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  2. Thanks for the post, May. I don't remember the ice man, but I do remember the coal man and the bin of coal in the basement. One time my brother threw a white patent leather purse of mine into that coal bin. My dad made him climb in and get it out.

    Helping older folks collect their memoirs sounds like a worthwhile project.

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