What Story and Why
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May Is Personal History Awareness MonthCopyright © May, 2009, revised May 2017 - Tom Gilbert, Writer/Personal Historian
The month of May is set aside by personal historians as the month to generate awareness about the importance of personal history. During the month of may we encourage people to do something to preserve their personal and/or family history.
I consider life story capture to be something of a personal mission. Everyone has a story and I think it is so important for us to record, preserve and validate our stories. How will people remember you, your parents, your grandparents and other ancestors?
Did you know that most people today cannot name their great-grandparents?
Does that give you pause? It should. Because that means your great-grandchildren may not know anything about you.
Unless, that is, you do something to preserve your story (and the stories of your family).
When it comes right down to it, the history that we know is basically biographies of other people. Significant historical events are recalled through the memories of those who lived through them. Ask those who grew up during the Great Depression. Ask yourself about September 11, 2001. You can easily get the idea.
Many people get overwhelmed when they begin to contemplate a life story project. I can sympathize. But that’s no excuse for not doing something. Any project begins with some basic steps. The way to get started is to – get started!
First of all, consider that your life story project does not need to be perfect. Too many people want a perfect end product, maybe even a bestseller. Well, not to burst anyone’s bubble, but nobody’s life is perfect. And your written life story (or audio, video, scrapbook, website or other means of capturing your story) does not need to be perfect. Quality? Yes, of course. But don’t be a perfectionist. The main thing is to commit to doing something.
Procrastination is another project killer. People think there will always be time to do this. There is danger in putting it off. Memories fade. People die. As Creedence Clearwater Revival sang, “Someday never comes”.
Another obstacle is often price. There is no question that a custom life story project can be expensive. If you want a well-crafted and riveting narrative in a color, hardbound book with photographs, and based on multiple interviews, it can run into a few thousand dollars. But you have to think about the value of investing (yes, investing) in this project. Isn’t it worth it to have your family and friends know this history?
Price shouldn’t even be the starting point. You can do lots of preliminary work on your own, buy inexpensive books and guides, such as Turning Memories Into Memoirs by Denis Ledoux, and the MemoryGrabber by Michael Boyter.
I offer various life story services, and I really enjoy the interviewing and writing process. This is the area I feel I am best. Some personal historians are better at book layout and design. Others excell in video work. It's up to you to decide how you will preserve your story. Part of my mission with Your Life Is Your Story is to give you some ideas.
Now that you have an “awareness” of Personal History Month, take the next step. Commit to doing something in May. Read the articles I’ve written, sign up for my free monthly ezine and review the various life story services presented here.
We are all in this together, preserving our history – one story at a time!