Saturday, January 4, 2014

Useful Life Story Definitions

"It is not histories I am writing, but lives; the most glorious deeds do not always indicate virtue or vice, but a small thing like a phrase or a jest often reveals more of a character than the bloodiest battles." 
There are some definitions that might be helpful to you if you are exploring the world of Life Story Writing.
Bio - this is clearly short for "Biography" - and is often used when talking with a writer or speaker, especially if they have been booked to do a workshop.  The organisers want a short version of their story for publicity and for introduction of the speaker.   
I update it regularly - but following is what I send out to folk who are interested in having me as a guest speaker, or have already booked me. 
Di always wanted to be a writer, and in fact was first published in the ABC Children’s newspaper when she was at primary school.
But a career in writing was not on the immediate agenda for Di, who after working in a number of offices in Adelaide, trained as a nurse at Mount Gambier Hospital.  Marriage, children, and varied careers followed, before Di started to investigate the writer’s life.
Life stories have always fascinated Di, who used to sit with elderly patients and lament the loss of amazing histories, as most life stories are not recorded.  In 2005, Di started The Official Biographer endeavouring to write these histories, and found herself with a contract to write the story of an Irishman who was born in Ireland in 1925, the same day his mother died.  His story is yet to be published, but there is a film and book contract hovering.
Di completed a degree in Adult and Vocational Teaching at Griffith University in 2002, majoring in literacy and numeracy, and continued working in the training industry, while endeavouring to hone her writing skills. 
She founded the Writers of Wynnum Manly, is a member of the Queensland Writers Centre, and the Queensland Society of Women Writers.
In 2008 Di embarked on a career teaching English to students at universities in China and South Korea, and occasionally teaches foreign students in the Brisbane area. On return from her last sojourn at the Zhejiang Yuexiu University of Foreign Languages at Shaoxing south of Shanghai in 2010, she commenced study at Swinburne University and in September 2012 graduated with a Master of Arts (Writing).
Earlier, Di completed research on the art of writing obituaries. She was a member of the (now defunct) International Society of Professional Obituary Writers.  The link between biographies and obituaries is clear, and Di will be working with people to prepare not only their biographies, but also “advanced obituaries” giving them the opportunity of creating their own obit, or at least giving their families a “heads up” for their eventual demise.
Di is The Official Biographer.
Note:  I get booked for Life Story Writing or Blogging workshops, so will often make changes to the last paragraph to fit the program that I am book into or being considered for.
A biography is the story of the life of someone.  Often it is on chronological form - often with photographs, but with stories that retell the story of their life.    It is written by someone other than the person who is the subject, though he/she may well help with providing the information. 
The subject of the story writes it.  It is their story, written by them (with a little help from an editor or two!
This is generally regarded as a story about a time or a particular event or connected series of events in someone's life - usually written in the first person.  I like Wikipedia's explanation
This is a short biography published after the death of someone, detailing their life and achievements.  Usually the last paragraph gives a little information on the date and place of death and the family members who have been left behind.  In some cases it is also the notice of death, but I think more so if the notice of death includes some story of the life of the deceased.
Death Notice
Most newspapers (paper and online) have a page where people pay to have published the details of the death of someone, and perhaps the details of the funeral notice as well. 
Advanced Obituary
Particularly for significant people in our communities an obituary is already written in preparation for the death of someone.  Important/famous people - e.g. Queen of England, Prime Ministers, Presidents, top movie stars and sportspeople will already have their story written and ready for publication in the event of their death, so that newspapers can publish the story immediately on the notification of a death.  The research will have been done, the story edited and ready to go - these are updated as time progresses, and when the time comes can be published straight away.
This is a speech made in praise of someone especially after their death, at their funeral or memorial service.  The writer/speaker of the eulogy often has close personal links with the deceased, and speaks in commendation of that person.  Often the speaker is a family member.
Footnote 1.  Quote from Wikipedia.


Holly Jahangiri said...

Well, I think your bio is interesting! I'm a bit bored with "death notices." They seem so cold, and so few newspapers run real obituaries, these days. Is it morbid to want to know how someone died, as well as how they lived? (I mean, unless they died during sex, or s--well, okay, that's even more interesting, truth be told, than the mundane "natural causes.")

Seriously, did anyone write an obit for the Society of Obituary Writers? Or did it leave this world with nary a whimper?

Di Hill said...

Hi Holly - I don't think the society died, so much as changed. A new organisation took its place. there's an interesting history about obituaries - I must write about that and Dr Nigel Starck who wrote about the history of obituary. Thanks for visiting.

Modern Admin Support said...

Very interesting post. Thank you for sharing. Reminds me I really need to work on my bio and hopefully one day, an autobiography. Wonder who will want to read that!

Di Hill said...

Thank you for visiting Modern Admin Support. I think we all need to work on our own stories.