How often do you hear people say: “I wish I’d remembered to ask my grandmother more about her life” or “I wonder what life was like for my grandparents when they first arrived “Down Under?”
Everyone has their own unique story to tell. And it is by sharing those personal stories that we enrich the lives of others, who may be able to relate to our triumphs, struggles and difficulties.
Imagine the 95-year old who rode to school in a horse and buggy, experienced the first electric light and has lived through two World Wars. There is so much valuable personal history woven into long and eventful lives, to be shared and cherished by other family members. And we all want to be remembered, both for the good we’ve done and for our significant accomplishments.
You don’t necessarily have to record your complete life story in chronological order and in fact you may prefer to focus on a particular period or event. For example, someone who has excelled in motor car racing may simply wish to record those experiences. Or perhaps a family member who has recovered from a life-threatening illness may want to share their story to help others.
There are things about my family history that only my mother knew. She talked about them now and then when I was too young to take it all in. Some were retained by my sister but sadly, not documented. Now they are both gone, and to my great regret so is a large chunk of my family history that is no longer recoverable.
John Davies, Melbourne
There are no hard and fast rules as to how you tell your life story because that’s all part of your individual experience.
Perhaps you have kept a diary or journal over the years to record events as they happen. As always, motivation is the key, which can be difficult as we are all so busy these days. We tend to put things off, but once a loved one dies, all the information they possess, (unless it has been recorded), is lost forever.
Deciding to utilise the services of a biographical writer can be a very exhilarating and therapeutic process, requiring sensitivity on the part of the interviewer. I conduct my interviews using a digital recorder, preferring to interview people in their own surroundings to help them relax. I have found that in most cases a natural closeness develops with the interviewee, and this facilitates a more authentic memoir. Little nuances of speech, grammatical expressions and so on become an integral part of the final written work.
Nowadays, with digital printing technology, it is possible to produce a very professional and attractive book for a reasonable cost. In most cases, I have found clients will want to print a limited number of books to give as gifts to family members. Of course, should you so aspire, you can preserve your legacy with an elegant, leather-bound finish.