28
Feb

Write a Memoir for Family – 14 Reasons Why

Everyone should write a memoir. 

Your life, your mother’s life, your father’s life, your grandmother’s life and even your great great great grandmother’s life are all worthy of a memoir being written about them. The list for who’s worthy is as long as the people who’ve walked through time. No one is not worthy – everyone should write a memoir. Because regardless of how mundane you consider your life to be, or how ordinary your ancestors considered theirs to be – to someone it will be the most fascinating read they’ve ever come across, especially if its family. 

Memoirs should be entertaining and when the word ‘entertaining’ is thrown around it’s easy to open the gate to feelings of inferiority and unworthiness – this could be the very nonsense that prevents you to write a memoir. After all, would your life or moments of your life be enough to contain a reader within the pages of a book? The honest answer to this question for anyone who is considering to write a memoir will always be YES.

Pages that may be useful:

Your story is never boring… just ask Marianne Keyes

10 ways to connect with your writing voice

How to write a book – the real guide

. Creative writing or memoir writing?

You are more extraordinary than you may think. Your life, or moments of your life, may have touched on experiences that other people can only dream of, or fear happening to them. Your experiences and the sharing of such in a memoir creates much more than just a book or an author. It creates connection with others who may be experiencing what you’ve experienced, and who use your memoir as a guide post to get them through that situation.  

Writing a memoir doesn’t have to be written just once. In fact, you could write memoirs for every decade of your life. Imagine the personal record you would have of your life experiences, feelings, emotions, desires, failures and achievements. Writing a memoir is a beautiful thing. It allows you to grow through the pages of your story as you acknowledge and learn about pieces of yourself that can only be learnt through the process of quiet reflection and writing on a page.  

We don’t always give ourselves the time to understand a situation in our lives because we’re too busy living it, in the same way that we may not feel anything extraordinary about it because it happened to us – but everything you do and have been a part of will be extraordinary to someone else, and the time you take to understand how you grew through these moments, and discover how you were shaped by these experiences is a priceless practice that everyone should carry out at least once in their lifetime.

memoir writing

There are a hundred reasons why you should write a memoir, and another one of those reasons is for your family. Can you imagine if your mother, your father, your great-grandmother or your great great great grandmother had written a memoir? Would you at least be tempted to see what they reveal about themselves? Just a little bit? I know I would. If I could find a memoir written by my grandparents or great grandparents and could see all the wonderful things they’d experienced, or all the heart lashings they’d had in love, and was able to see a clearer picture of who they were and the life they lived within, I’d be richer for it. Whether they felt contained by society or free with rebellion – I’d want to know. No, I’ll rephrase that. I want to know.  The weight of my nan’s life, of her losses, of her strength of character makes me want to write a memoir for her.

I have this deep desire to get to know my grandmother (or nan as I called her). From pieces of information passed on from my dad and grandfather after she passed, along with the stories she used to tell me about life as a teenager, waiting for my grand father to come home safe from war, to learning how he had watched his brother’s ship sink before him off the coast of Malta, to being amazed by how my nan’s sister had married and divorced a virgin because she’d married a gay man. The stories were endless. In fact, I owe much to my nan for the wonderful, sensational stories that she told me (and much more that I’ve listed here) that ignited my curiosity in people’s stories – because everyone has one. Absolutely everyone. 

There is no replacement for the loss of a parent, grandparent or anyone else meaningful in your life. In fact, there is no replacement for anyone that walked this earth. Yet there’s one thing you can do to create immortality, and create a window into your life, your heart, and that is to write a memoir. 

You may choose to write it and put it away until you’re no longer around (just in case you’re afraid of the reaction it might get), entrusting a family member to know where it is at the right time. Or you may choose to print it and let all your family know of its being and be present to discuss the pieces they never saw of you before reading this book. Whatever you choose will be the right way for you. If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s this: writing a legacy, a memory, a memoir, gives those that love you and all who connect to you in the past, present and future a way of knowing you way beyond the person you’ve chosen to become, and present to the world, and way beyond the existence you have now. 

memoir writing

Just imagine writing a memoir for your family, for their family and for all the family that comes after – that all intrinsically link to you and in a way live through you up to the very moment they read your story, and for many existences there after. 

If you’re still unsure here’s 14 reasons why you should write: 

 

1. To show the things you loved about life.  
This could be a person or people. Your addiction to chocolate. Your love of wine. Your children. Your grandchildren. Your husband, wife, partner in crime. The way the birds sing in spring in the early morning. The way the sun hits your face on a summer’s day. The love you felt for the one that got away. The desire you felt for someone you shouldn’t.

 2. An opportunity to explain the good in people. Your faith in your family. Your faith in self.
Your willingness to look beyond the ugly and see the bigger picture. Your faith in religion (if you have one), the comfort having faith in whatever you have faith in gives to you. The idea of passing this to someone else gives them an opportunity to see how something shaped your actions and behaviours.

3. To reveal your deepest desires. 
This is an opportunity to say the things you perhaps wouldn’t in reality. The way you see the world or the hope you have for others that you wouldn’t dare say. Or the passion you felt for something or someone that has long since passed.

4. To show what you lost. 
Sometimes writing about what we lost enables us to see what we gained from that loss. But also, sharing about a loss, whether that be financial, romantic or friendship enables the reader to see how that loss shaped you, and how perhaps, it changed you, irrevocably.

5. To reveal what you gained. 
You could write about the knowledge, wisdom, clarity, foresight or even hindsight. These gains are worthy of passing on to whoever wishes to read your story. What you’ve learnt will also be the lessons of others. Wouldn’t it be comforting to know that your understanding of self and a situation could help someone else understand themselves better? Giving a different perspective on things is always valuable.

6. To connect with your family. 
This memoir could be the bond that holds your family together over the generations of the future. And it could be a way of letting your close family members connect with you right now.
 
7. To give perspective on your behaviours and actions. 
This could be your opportunity to set the record straight. We each behave and react in ways that is usually compelled by some deep motivational factor of who we are, and what we’ve experienced. When you’re able to give your side of things, it opens a new channel of understanding for both the reader and for yourself. As when you sit down to write, you will begin to understand your actions and reactions more clearly. This is what comes with the reflective element of writing a memoir. It’s powerful stuff.~
 

8. To say what you wished you had more of. 
Do you wish you had more love, friends, peace, family, money, sex? Whatever it is you wish you had more of there’s usually a good reason and a whole lot of backstory behind it. Explore this. This is one of those moments where you find the ordinary becomes the extraordinary.
 

9. To add a new perspective to who you are. 
How you see the world isn’t necessarily how people think you see the world. What do you value most? What are you passionate about? Or what were you passionate about as a teen or in your early twenties. Or who were you passionate about that was taboo? What makes you, YOU? Climb down into your heart and sit there for while and allow all those old memories to come to you. Then sit with them and feel your way through each and every one. Is that the same person who you see in the mirror today? If it’s not – then it’s unlikely to be the same person that others see you as.

 

10. To create a foothold in the present, past and future.  
This will give you immortality. This will also provide present family members who know you well to get to know you better. And future generations to have a window into the remarkable person you are. Everything that you are will be alive forever within the pages of your memoir. If that’s not immortality for humans, and a strong family connection linked through time, then I don’t know what is.


11. To share what you hate most. 

Now then, memoirs should never be a pity party or a victim book. That said, it doesn’t have to be all hearts and flowers. You can say what you hated as much as you can share what brought you joy. If you hate cats – that’s okay. This could be a funny element of the quirks that make you who you are. It’s all about the way you tell it.
 

12. To explain what holds you back. 
We each have moments where we want something so badly, but something holds us back from grabbing it with both hands. What was that for you? What is that for you? Do you still want it? Did you let it go with peace, or do you dream of it still? The thing that holds you back is worth exploring too. Because you never know, it might not be there any longer.
 

13. To tell who you are in your voice. 
Your voice has power and authenticity. The words you choose, the language you use, the way in which you say things will be present in the way you impart your story. The one thing that you can give through your memoir is your voice. That priceless, unique, individual aspect of you that makes you, you to so many people, will be present within every word, on every page, telling your story in your way when you write a memoir.
 

14. To take ‘time’ as we know it and make it everlasting 
This is your opportunity to play ‘time’ at its own game. It may be that we exist in other dimensions and other times and never really die (Einstein’s theory), and even if this is the case, time is never really on our side. Time is of its own making. But in writing a memoir, you are creating a moment in a time that is everlasting and accessible regardless of the day it is picked up and read. With a memoir you can exist through time.

Writing a memoir for family is one of the greatest gifts you can give them, besides love, that is. And wouldn’t it be amazing to know that you keep that love alive for all time within  memoir dedicated to them? 

Respectfully your guide,

Cheryl

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