Story and Why
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On May 19 (see below) I posted what Paul Graham had to say about the
difference between the autobiography (or biography) and a memoir.
This is an ongoing question I get from a lot of people.
Fellow APH member Pat McNees sent me an
email to share her insight into this question and she makes some good
points. One of the things she points out is while an
autobiography typically is a full blown life story starting from birth,
it needn't be dry or unemotional. And sometimes I think
people perceive that form of life story writing to be that way.
On the other hand, the memoir can be more intellectual than emotional,
although it is often not thought of in those terms. I see memoirs
as frequently the opportunity to focus on a very significant slice of
Pat has a very good website, Writers
and Editors (www.writersandeditors.com). See her
thoughts on this subject here.
Pat McNees also discovered a fun news item I'm passing on - Older Brain May Be a Wiser Brain,
posted here on the New York Times site.
Memorial Day. We express our gratitude for those who've
served in the Armed Forces. So many of the World War Two
veterans are passing away. I've mentioned before the
important work of the Veterans History Project
by the Library of
Congress. There are other organizations also engaged in the
vital task of preserving our WWII vets stories, such as the World War
II Museum in New Orleans. More here at MSNBC.
The Memorial Day weekend is one of those holidays that has grown beyond
its original purpose. For many it is a time to kickoff the
summer. Some like to travel (although that's tougher with the
price of gasoline!), others go to ballgames, cookouts or watch the Indy
500 race. But we must also honor the original intent -
remembering our Armed Forces members who given their lives in service
to our country.
Here's a link to a site that gives
a background and overview to Memorial
It is the time of graduation for many finishing up High School, College
or other higher education. It can be both exhilerating and
frightening. Freedom and responsibility as you embark into
the world or on a new career path.
Two years ago my daughter graduated from High School. I gave
her a gift of a MemoryPress book
that documented her life to that point. It was fun to do and she has
I remind you that there are many ways to tell your story - you don't
have to write one large and complete life story. The
MemoryPress option makes it affordable and easy to create a book for
any special occasion. The MemoryPress is our current Highlight Site
feature. Go here for more
We are more than halfway through this month of May. A
reminder that this is Personal
History Month, so I hope you are doing
something...anything to either promote personal history or perhaps move
forward on your own life
Because a full-blown autobiography can be overwhelming I frequently
urge you to try smaller pieces. This is the intent in
focusing on Your Life Changing Event.
Writing a memoir does not have to include your full life's story.
You can concentrate on one aspect or time in your life.
I was glad to see this idea echoed once again by Paula Graham.
She held a workshop at the Newark Library and the Newark Post (story here) wrote about it.
She emphasizes that a memoir is not an autobiography, but rather a
slice of time or theme. An autobiography is a chronicle of
facts about someone's life.
I also like that Graham suggests you "put aside thoughts of agents and
publishers and concentrate on reflecting on your life and committing
your stories to paper." She quotes Judith Barrington from Writing the Memoir,
"living a conscious and reflective life is a prerequisite for writing a
memoir of substance."
He is a Pulitzer Prize winner. He's worked as an actor and
longtime radio broadcaster in addition to author. And he has
an incredible knack for capturing the essence of real people in his
wide-ranging interviews (Conversations with America). Happy 96th birthday to
the one and only Studs Terkel!
Check out Listen! - International Day for Sharing Life Stories,
on May 16th 2008. The day will be an opportunity for people around the
world to gather in community halls, classrooms, public parks, theaters,
auditoriums, as well as websites, email exchanges, and virtual
environments to hear each other’s stories. Details here.
For all of the mothers - and for all of the children - and all of the
caregivers who are part of the lives of children as they grow into
adults, Happy Mother's Day. I was reminded by an excellent
blog entry from Judy Wright (www.artichokepress.com) that there
is much more to Mothering...and Mother's Day...than cards and breakfast
Do yourself a favor and read Auntie
Artichoke's honest and insightful post, Mother's Day Message to Adult Children.
Have you heard about the new documentary film, Young@Heart,
opening this weekend in theaters? The film is the story of a
chorus group whose members range in age from 72 to 88. They
sing and perform contemporary music by bands like Coldplay, the
Ramones, Talking Heads, Sonic Youth and the Bee Gees. What a
The chorus members are dedicated to
their art. They know they are in the twilight of their lives
few have recently passed on), but they give it their all. Their
performances often sell out
theaters. They are celebrating life. That's cool.
You can read a good article about Young@Heart
by Steve Persall (for the St. Petersburg Times) here. Visit
the official movie website from Fox Searchlight Films here.
The month of May is always a great month, especially for family
historians, bio-writers and the collectors of life stories.
History Month, so get started on your story! Want help getting started?
Another cool event this month is something called Pangea Day.
On May 10 people from around the globe will celebrate stories
through film. See the world through someone else's eyes.
Pangea Day will feature a 4-hour program of short films, live
music and visionary speakers. See more about this event at www.pangeaday.org.