So you think you’re too young to write your memoirs?
Just as your life is a work in progress, your memoirs can be a work in progress too. If you’re 30 or 50 or even 70, and you’re not facing a dreaded illness, you probably have no reason to disbelieve that your life will stretch out quite a way ahead of you yet. But you can at least start writing the story of your life now—and add to it as you go along.
On the other hand, if you’re already retired and not spending your retirement years traveling the world, volunteering in a war-torn nation, or doing something else “ink-worthy” (deserving of being printed), you might want to start AND FINISH your memoirs now.
“But I haven’t done anything notable even when I was working. I led a pretty ordinary life.” Is that your thought? “Who would want to read about MY life?”
Your children, and grandchildren, and great-grands, and beyond—that’s who. Maybe your life story isn’t the stuff of which best-sellers are made. But even if no traditional publisher would be interested in bringing out your book, you can self-publish and disseminate the books to your family members, friends, and other associates. The new print-on-demand technology (PhotographicsUSA.com is one such printer) makes it possible to order as many—or as few—copies of your book as you want. It’s no longer necessary to order a press run of 1000 or more. Order 50 or five, 100 or 10. No worries about not having enough room to store the boxes of books in the garage or piled up behind the living room drapes, or having to pay to rent a storage unit.
Tell the story of your life and, with a nod to today’s interest in ancestry, tell about your ancestors as well. What generation in your family “came over” and from what country?
Even if you’ve never done anything remarkable, if this is a book for family and friends, tell what games you played as a child, what things were like when you were a kid (no microwaves, no cellphones, no videogames, no computers, and the phones were hardwired into the wall and, depending on your age, may even have been black and featured a rotary dial—future generations will be aghast at what a deprived childhood you led!). It was a different world, then. Tell about it.
Also tell where you grew up and where you went to school, what your childhood ambition was, and what your first job was. Tell of your hobbies, any athletic skills, how you liked spending your spare time, how you spent your vacations…all the ins and outs of daily life.
What serious illnesses did you have? What pets did you own at the various times in your life? Who was your first love? What were the milestones in your life?
If you’re not writing for public consumption but only for your family and friends, you’ll still want your facts straight, your grammar, spelling, and punctuation spot-on, but you don’t need to make the book a real page-turner, nor do you have to worry whether the word count is long enough or too long.
I’ve edited the memoirs of any number of clients. Most were not destined for general public consumption. (One recent exception to that is available to the general public through Amazon.com.) Most were not the sort of thing a mainstream publisher would be interested in. But the authors—most but not all of them retired—wanted to leave a legacy so they would be remembered after they’ve passed, and so their families would have their facts straight about these memoirists.
So why haven’t you started writing those memoirs yet? Get going!