I am a hoarder and I keep silly things. I have a small suitcase of tickets, letters and meaningless fodder which trigger memories whenever I look at them. I realised that when I’m dead and gone, they would be the first things to go straight into the bin. I wanted my children and grandchildren to understand why they were important to me so I bought two expensive photo albums and over the next two years I created two almost identical ‘scrapbooks’ interjected with my story. Now the bus ticket had meaning, and the front and back covers of my lunch vouchers told a story.
The best thing I did to kick start my recall was to invite two friends who were with me when I trained with as a Nursery Nurse, to come for a weekend. Hubby was away so we spent the whole time eating, walking, huddled on the sofa and nattering. Absolute bliss! As it turned out, I remembered more than they did but every now and then they would drop in a real gem, like the sound of Matron’s uniform rustling as she crept up behind you and that would trigger another stream of memories. The key is to write them down as soon as they come to you. You only need a meaningful jot but leave then ‘til later and they’re gone again.
Is a memoir interesting to people outside the family? Yes, simply because it invokes a way of life which has long since gone. There were good things and bad but by telling your story, it helps this generation know what made my generation tick.
My tips for creating your memoir:
Do enjoy what you are doing. The minute it becomes a chore or too serious, it will show in your writing.
Have a clear idea of the person you are writing for. The albums were for my girls only and therefore much more intimate.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. My albums touch the years between my first job and when I married their father. My book Bath Times & Nursery Rhymes deals with the years between my first job and up until I had my first child. Good strategy… I still have a lot more to tell!
If you can’t get publisher to take your book, you can always invest in a short run self-publish package. That’s what happened when I ghosted One Name One Number the story of Living Hope Ministries. Good story but there wasn’t any blood and gore so no publisher wanted to take the risk. My friend has a wide circle of interested people and he has virtually sold all of the 1,000 books he ordered, and by now doubled his investment!