Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Who should you write about?

I do think that many folk find the whole "writing a life story" project overwhelming - and it can be.  That is why I like the idea of writing a mini biography.  So many folk tell me that they are going to write their story - but they never get "around to it" - but as with writing anything, you can edit/change/update (especially now with computers it makes it easier than ever before) but one has to get started.

Why not start writing your own story?  Or a memoir?  What is the difference between a memoir and a biography? 

First of all, a biography is the story of a person, often written in chronological order.  A memoir is also a biography, but is generally considered to be written by someone about his/her experience perhaps in a certain period of time. 

A biography is written by someone other than the person who is the topic of the story, and an autobiography is written by a person about his/her life.

There are some wonderful quotes about biographies - a couple are below

Autobiography and Truth "All autobiographies are lies. I do not mean unconscious, unintentional lies; I mean deliberate lies. No man is bad enough to tell the truth about himself during his lifetime, involving, as it must, the truth about his family and friends and colleagues. And no man is good enough to tell the truth in a document which he suppresses until there is nobody left alive to contradict him."
(George Bernard Shaw, Sixteen Self Sketches, 1898)

An autobiography is an obituary in serial form with the last installment missing."
(Quentin Crisp, The Naked Civil Servant, 1968)

There's a wonderful article here which might be helpful.

I do think it is helpful to start writing about one's self.  An autobiography.  Not necessarily with the intention of finishing it or publishing it - but learning how to do it by doing it.    If you are writing about yourself it will not need to end - until your life does.   While you are writing your story - consider writing your parents' stories.

Luckily my mother (who reached her 98th birthday in 2013) started to write hers some 30 years ago.  I have been able to use that as the basis for my writings about her.

I often think of the song from the movie "The Sound of Music" and those immortal words "Let's Start at the Very Beginning a Very good Place to Start".


So, there are two things to do:

  1. Write down - even brainstorm details that you can easily recall.  Full name, date of birth, place of birth, parents names, etc.
  2. Read good biographies.

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