During these days of lockdown, many of you have time on your hands. After you have cleaned every corner of your home and worn out your TV remote from binge-watching, how might you spend your time and use it well?
Write your story!
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My mother died in 1986, at sixty-two. Her death came suddenly. The many stories she could have written were left to the memories of those of us who knew her.
My father died ten years ago. He was eighty-three. When he was eighty, his second wife, Louise, wisely encouraged him to write his story, and to write letters to each of his kids. Dad went to work.
The morning of Dad’s funeral, Louise gathered us kids. She was holding envelopes. As she handed one to each of us, she told us how Dad had written his story and had a letter for each of us. On this day of great loss, we also enjoyed great gain. Dad’s letter is precious to me.
Dad wrote in long hand. In 2018, I typed his autobiography into my computer. I published here—https://eilerspizza.wordpress.com/2018/03/17/j-john-eilers-autobiography/—on March 17, 2018, when he would have turned ninety-one.
Last year, I published my life story. As I gave books to family and friends, one person after another said, “I should write a book. I’ve had quite a life. I have a lot of stories to tell.” My response was, “It was my therapist who got me writing. He said that even if I never published a book, my grandchildren would benefit from my having written down what I was experiencing.”
That was 2013. I began to write. I kept typing.
In 2015, I began a blog. I used it to tell my story.
In 2016, I had enough written that I started thinking about a book. I went back to the beginning of my life and wrote.
2018 brought a resolution to my health issues such that I found a way to write the conclusion to the longest chapter of my life. I still had no idea whether I would be able to get my memoir published, but I was determined to get it ready for printing. I retained the sense that if no one but my grandchildren read it, that made it valuable to have written.
As I searched online regarding publishers, I learned about self-publishing, that it cost nothing, and that I could issue both a printed version and an ebook.
In February 2019, I completed the job that had at one time seemed an impossibility. In March 2020, I am days away from publishing my second book. And I’ve already begun writing numbers three and four.
It doesn’t matter how you write—in long hand or into a computer—it only matters that you do it.
To aid your writing, dig out your photo albums. As you turn the pages—unable to squelch both wide grins and tears—you will dig up memories that you thought were lost.
When you reach the final pages of your albums, go back to the front. The photos will help you tell your story. The words will flow.
If you are not able to write, who might do it for you? Even if you can’t be in the same place, with computers and cell phones we can connect so easily. Perhaps, your child also has time and can type as you talk.
Don’t worry about writing well. Your grammar and punctuation need not be school-quality. My dad’s sure wasn’t. To decipher some words, I had to use the context to figure them out. And I had to fill in areas to make sense of some stories.
Because my father wrote, all of the succeeding generations of his family will benefit.
Because I wrote and published my story, more than my family are benefitting. My blog and book have led many folks to contact me—people I’ve been able to help. Not only have they received needed insights and assistance, I’ve gained by having meaningful work.
As you write, you’ll love reliving the meaningful parts of your life. Don’t fear the tough parts, and don’t keep from writing those, too. They are a vital part of your life’s story. (But don’t tell secrets that are best kept untold. You want to help, not hurt. And you’re not out to unload old grudges.)
Just think of it all—the people who formed you, the events which built you, the times that make up the whole of you. What a story you have to tell!
Having written, long after you’re gone your family will love you for writing your story!