Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Is It Time for Your Memoirs?

Recently, my mother-in-law was watching a rerun of an old Lawrence Welk show. To me this was a bit nostalgic, but since it was part of my childhood, not at all unusual. However, as I watched my nephew and his wife, I was amazed. They had never seen a variety show. For the whole hour, they sat fascinated by the music, the costumes, and the hairstyles. Periodically, they exclaimed things like “wow” and “is this how it was?”

Afterwards, I got my mother-in-law to reminisce. Ordinary things from her girlhood like her father’s horse-drawn delivery truck, petticoats, and Marcel hairstyles provided precious glimpses into a past totally foreign to her children and grandchildren. The world is changing so quickly. Who knows? Maybe our children will visit grandchildren on the space platform or Moon City and regale them with stories of the olden times and the old folks who were earthbound.

Now that you are a home school graduate, you have leisure for hobbies and new pursuits. Maybe, while stories are still fresh in your mind, it is the ideal time to write your memoirs.

But you say, with all the material I have, I wouldn’t know where to begin. First you must remember a memoir is not a biography. Nor is it told chronologically. Instead, it is built upon a theme. Spend several months writing about fun experiences and little disasters that you now laugh about. Use story form. That is, each account must have a beginning, middle, and an end. When you have collected quite a few anecdotes, you should see patterns emerge. Put them together and that will be your theme. Examples might be: How My Home Schooled Children Grew in Character, How I Juggled Being a Home School Mom, a Soccer Mom, and a Theater Mom, or How We Home Schooled Our Way Across America.

Be consistent with the theme. Think small. You don’t need all the details. Focus on the main things and build around them. Write the narration in the first person using the voice you would use in a personal letter. If you speak with idioms, use them. Let future generations hear your personality, your character, your emotions, and your humor. What you feel is important to recall will be important to your readers as well.

The most memorable memoirs are filled with love. The strongest ones combine time and place with some turning point in one’s life. The decision to homeschool produced major changes in my life. Does anyone care to share a story?---Quinn

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