Thursday, October 14, 2010

Guest Blog for LDS Writer's Blogck

I was asked to be a guest writer for the blog LDS Writers Blogck ( and I thought I would share it here as well.

I kept putting off writing this blog because there was always tomorrow. Then I ran out of tomorrows.

`I finally came up with something that I thought was fantastic. I had it all planned out in my head.....stories, details, witty little analogies.

Then I lost my mind.

Well, not really lost my mind. I am still capable of giving someone a piece of my mind. But I did lose my train of thought. Totally.

I am the writer of non-fiction, specifically local and personal histories. Actually, I think that history is NOT non-fiction. After my writing experiences, I believe that all history has an element of fiction.

After gathering stories and facts for my histories, I began the work of putting them together in a logical, complete written form. That is when I discovered that the stories had holes in them, sometimes very large holes.

When a person tells a story, he puts it in his own context. He knows the background well but he keeps that part in his head. The listener (or reader) probably doesn’t have the same background so he fills in the blanks with his own experience. And thus, history becomes a mixture of true history and created history.

That brings me to the subject of writing your own history or memoirs so you can fill in all those holes with the facts as you remember them (not always accurate either.)

A memoir is “a person’s written account of his own life; an autobiography.
Will Rogers put it a little more pithily: "Memoirs means when you put down the good things you ought to have done and leave out the bad ones you did do."
[Marshal P├ętain "To write one's memoirs is to speak ill of everybody except oneself"]
Mary Greathouse “A history book gives dates and facts, but a memoir evokes memories and emotions. It connects us to the reader.

In days of yore, only generals and prostitutes wrote memoirs. I don’t know who read the general’s memoirs, but the prostitutes had a vast audience eager for their exciting tales.

Today, anyone can write a memoir. Movie stars wishing for a few more seconds of fame, politicians seeking a bigger voting audience or an ego boost, and everyday people just wanting to tell their stories.

I think most of us ordinary people write our memoirs so that we can connect with our families and friends. We want to pass on to them who we are and what we value. Mostly, though, we think our lives are not important enough to write down, so the next generation is left with the job.

They go about it with the best of intentions, and the worst of knowledge. Bits and pieces of stories that they remember Mom and Dad telling, differing greatly from the stories their siblings remember. That makes my case for writing our own stories. Who do you want telling your story? (The answer isn’t as obvious as it sounds. I have avoided telling my kids about my early dating years so they have come up with a pretty amazing romantic life for me. My version is truer, but theirs is funner.)

Why should we write our memoirs at all? Here is a short list
-To connect with those around you including your descendants
-To relive the memories
-To pass along your heritage
-To pass along your values
-To give your posterity a firm foundation
-To leave your testimony in words and acts
-To iron out differences

The son of a WWII veteran talked his father into writing his autobiography, The father had been emotionally distant for all of his son’s life. In writing the memoirs, the son learned of his father’s horrifying experiences as a prisoner of war in Japan. Finally he understood the emotion pain of his father and why he had not been available to his son for all of those years. They were able to become closer as they worked together and discussed those long lost years.

-As therapy.

Sometimes we just need to get things out of our systems and the only way to do it is to write it down. This is valuable purpose for writing a memoir, but it might not be something you will want to share. Someone reading these entries may not understand the background and circumstance and may misconstrue what you say.

There is more to writing memoirs, but this is enough for one blog. Thanks for listening.

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