Friday, March 1, 2013

Writing a Memoir

Do you have stories from your past that you'd like to record? Maybe you want to leave your memories to your children and grandchildren. Well, I had those memories, too, so in 1995, I began to write them down.

I used to listen to my mother and grandmother tell stories of when they were young, and promptly forget them. Now I wish I had listened better. My dad was a wonderful storyteller, too.

But when I married my preacher husband, Marvin Nobles, I found out he was quite the storyteller. Every time he preached, he had a story to illustrate what he was presenting from the pulpit. And many times, those stories were from his life.

I listened carefully, because I heard them several times. Whenever we would move to a new church, many times those old sermons were preached again, and the stories became second nature to me. I began to think, "Somebody ought to write those stories down. They are really good."

The busy life of working and raising four children left no room for writing, but shortly after retiring from teaching school, I began to write those stories down. My husband and a group of men had organized a group called BUDD Builders, people who spent the cold winter months of Missouri in Arizona or Florida working on a church, giving them volunteer labor as they "suffered for Jesus". On our first trip, in southern Arizona, I began to write down the stories I remembered. I had purchased an old laptop computer from my sister, so my first stories were recorded while I sat in a camper-trailer, reaching far back in my memory.

My husband, whom I call Charlie, would come in at night, and I would show him what I had written. He would read it, then say, "Well, it didn't really happen like that..." and he would tell me how to correct it. That worked well when they were HIS stories, but when they were OUR stories, I balked. I thought, "I'm writing this book and I remember it differently." So sometimes he won out and sometimes I wrote it the way I remembered it.

I had a lot to learn. My writing was just thoughts, and people who read it said it sounded like I was talking to them. I found out editors want a more finished product, but I didn't know how to do it. I didn't find a publisher, so I self-published my book and sold almost a thousand copies through mail-order and by speaking in churches where we had served. I titled the book, It Wasn't Always Easy, But it Sure Was Fun. The idea was to tell my grandchildren about our life, how we grew up and what we were like. All of them were very young at that time.

Ten years later, people were still asking about my book, so I wrote it again. making many changes and putting in some of the sadder and more serious things that happened in our lives and ministry. This book was called A Heritage of Faith and I tried to tell about the heritage that was given to us and that we tried to pass on to our children. Again I self-published, in 2010. If I had it to do again, I would seek a publisher and not stop until I found one. I would not self-publish. I sold about 500 of these books, though, by going to churches and talking about them, and through mail orders.

My point is that everybody has a story. Everybody has memories that will be gone when they die. How many wonderful books were never written? I recently talked with a lady in my mother's retirement home who was a refugee from Europe during World War II. I would have loved to listen to her stories and write them down, but my time there was limited and I had a hard time understanding her speech. The lady has now passed on and her stories went with her.

What's your story? Would you like to write it down? Start with something that made a deep impression on you, perhaps when you were a child. Begin writing. I'll write more about this next Friday.

Tune in for the next installment........

Everyone in the World HAS A STORY.  What's yours?

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