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May, 2008

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May 28, 2008

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 one's life.

Pat has a very good website, Writers and Editors (  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.

May 26, 2008

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.

May 23, 2008

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 Day.

May 21, 2008

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 treasured Growing Up Kristen.

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 information.

May 19,  2008

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."

May 16, 2008

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!

May 13, 2008

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.

May 11, 2008

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 ( that there is much more to Mothering...and Mother's Day...than cards and breakfast in bed.

Do yourself a favor and read Auntie Artichoke's honest and insightful post, Mother's Day Message to Adult Children.

May 6, 2008

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 dichotomy!

The chorus members are dedicated to their art.  They know they are in the twilight of their lives (a 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.

May 5, 2008

The month of May is always a great month, especially for family historians, bio-writers and the collectors of life stories.  It's Personal 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

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