The Memoir has made it. The Memoir is a resident on the Bestsellers list. Memoir writing is taught in your town, and not just at the local college. You even know someone who is working on a memoir, or a scrapbook, or a video, about themselves. The time is now to write your memoir. Your memory is not going to get better. Those photos in the drawer are not going to look sharper later. Your remaining older relatives and friends are on the move, one way or another. The people interested in what you have to say are finding others with stories. Write your memoir now!
Retirement is the perfect time for writing memoir. You’ll have an ongoing project with a concrete result. Your memoir can be created at home with simple tools and it will exercise your mind. As you practice recall, your present day as well as your past will become more vivid and alive. And no, your story is not boring, and writing your memoir is not self-centered. Aren’t we the center of our own universes? Aren’t we the founders of our families? Aren’t we the makers of our own histories? Who can claim a boring life?
You bring a unique perspective to the world. The voice of experience speaks in a memoir. Benjamin Franklin and Booker T. Washington wrote fascinating autobiographies of their lives from birth to successes that affected others. Gigi Goodall and Thaddeus Martin wrote fascinating memoirs focusing on what mattered to them. For Goodall (Do You Love Me?) it was finding a home and family, then helping others find one; for Martin (That’s the Gist of It) it was providing for his family and vacationing in the family RV. Every memoir has a theme or focus, bringing unique wisdom and experiences to the reader. Goodall and Martin are not famous; they wrote for their families and for themselves. They did not sell to an established publisher with advances. Yet these authors found satisfaction in the writing and publishing process. What these memoirs have in common with the bestsellers is a unique perspective that can comfort, inspire, and entertain others in years to come through the personal voice of memory.
Preserving your story in a memoir will last long past a headstone and give much more substance and joy to you and to others. You will make new friends and strengthen family connections through the process. As you struggle with what was important, or funny, or poignant in your life, you will experience revelation through reminiscence and research. You will learn new skills and enjoy mental stimulation. Your words will teach others and help them to avoid life’s mistakes. There are countless advantages to writing and saving your life story, and some of those are for the ones you love.
Make choices about content and process when you begin your memoir. What will you write about, and what is your reason for writing? What are your life’s key events? What photos and objects can jog your memory? Many people are driven to write to express a key theme such as a journey, a spiritual experience or a trauma. If so, be sure you stick to your theme. You have just made the key decision about your content, what your book is about.