I have a friend who told me he wants to eventually write his personal history but he wants to wait until he’s lived his life more. This person is in their 60s. So his thinking might be that he anticipates living a few more decades and then he’ll tackle his personal history.
I can respect that. But it makes me wonder if he’ll ever really get around to it.
If we wait until we feel we’ve lived our lives fully and then we can feel prepared to write it all down for posterity, that time might never come.
And not just because of life span or health reasons.
Let me use this analogy. Have you ever tried keeping a journal sporadically? It’s a killer, isn’t it? For every day that passes, it becomes more and more overwhelming to keep up with the anecdotes that we think, “Omigosh I’ll have to write that in my journal!” It’s hard to break the dry spell and feel like we can do more than “It was a great week!” It’s exhausting to think of the details because getting to the juicy details means we have to rehash some back story, and that’s a project in itself.
It’s the same for writing your personal history or memoir. It’s an overwhelming prospect to think that you have to cover so much ground. You can’t even remember what happened yesterday, let alone events from 40 years, 50 years, or 60 years ago. That’s a long time to rehash. So why even bother?
Because it IS possible. Because you need to write your story now, while you are enjoying good health. While people are still living to corroborate the facts.
The other day, I met a lady who told me she had written her life story. She titled it “The First 70 Years”. I thought that was fun because she came across to me as a “young” 70 year old. So it goes without saying she is looking forward to writing the next volume in her memoir of her “second 70 years”.
This lady wrote her life story, but you just need to start with one story and see where it goes. Here are some starters:
The house I grew up in
My childhood friends
My first job
How I met my spouse
The beauty of a personal history is we can designate a cutoff. We write it to the point of our choosing. My own memoir of my college experience going to school at Utah State University ends my junior year. I didn’t even cover my graduation. I decided then that I wanted to write it only to the point when my husband and I fell in love. Another time (now!), I will tackle a different kind of memoir, of how a city girl like me ended up in the country with a horse-crazy daughter and five horses.
Another important benefit of doing your memoir now is that you can share it with your loved ones sooner than, say, 20 years from now.
Don’t wait. Your story can start today.