By Ron Pramschufer, President , Self Publishing, Inc. – Helping Authors Become Publishers since 1995
A few years back President Bill Clinton made one of the few statements that I agreed with over his eight year term as President and that was that anyone over the age of 50 owed it to his family to record their life experiences and pass it on to the next generation. September is a great time to get started, so is January, March or December.
This year was a big year for me. Last month, I officially outlived my father. Early this month, I took my baby off to college, making my wife and I officially “empty-nesters”. Both of my grandkids turned one, my mom turned 86 and I’m headed off to my 40th high school reunion. Wow…. Where did the time go? In a conversation the other day with my older sister, we decided that we were the “youngsters” of old age. In listening to all the talk of the “post-war baby boom” over the past 58 years, there are quite a few of us “youngsters” out there, all with stories to tell.
My dad passed away back when the IBM Selectric typewriter was a big deal. I remember lots of dinner table stories growing up about his life during the depression and WW2. Unfortunately, he didn’t write any of these stories down. Did he walk 10 miles through 3 feet of snow or 3 miles through 10 feet of snow to get to school? Without anything written, no one will ever know… for sure. Sure, I can write about those stories but nothing beats firsthand knowledge.
I’m a bit of a history buff and among my collection is a series of Civil War books published in 1898. All the articles/chapters were written by soldiers and sailors who actually fought in the war. What a striking difference between this and some of the revisionist history books writing about the same events today. Your observations of the first landing on the moon or the day Kennedy was shot are your observations. If you talk to the average person they would tell you that they have led fairly boring lives but what if you were able to open a book written by your grandfather, who passed years ago, and learn, first hand, what it was like in the trenches of WW1 or sailing to America on a square rigger or packed into an old steamship.
I don’t have any steamship stories but I’m sure my grandson or great granddaughter would find something interesting about my life, well after I’m gone. But the only way they are going to read about it is for me to write it. I write little snipets of my life in my various articles but if I were to leave this earth today, a whole lot of really neat stories would go with me. I have decided to try to not let this happen but I need help. I’m guilty of putting things off as much as anyone. Much the way that weight watchers or AA works, I am asking a group of you to join me in writing our memoirs. We won’t set any particular publication date… we just want to agree to do it. If you are interested, email me at email@example.com and let me know. If there is an interest, I would be happy to lead a memoir group either online or via conference calls.
Unlike most of the publishing topics I write about, I’m not talking about anyone starting a publishing company or trying to market these books when we’re done. It is intended that they will be our contribution to our friends and families…. to history.
You can be any age, although I like the “over 50” idea. We were all around when a man walked on the moon. We were all affected by the Vietnam War, either directly or indirectly. We all lived through Jimmy Carter with his 21% CDs and Swine Flu scare, when the vaccine killed more people than the flu. We witnessed one president being assassinated and the attempted assassination of another. We all saw the federal budget hit 100 billion for the first time, with 52 billion of that going to the war in Vietnam. Almost all of our parents grew up in the depression. Most of us shared a phone line with a neighbor, went to the movies in the summer for the air conditioning and when cable TV was for farmers. No matter how routine and uninteresting you may think your life has been, so far…. it’s really much more interesting than you may think. Certainly your kids, grand kids, or great grand kids or great great grand kids will be interested in what you have to say. When is a good time to get started? Right now, today. Once you’ve made up your mind that you’re ready to get started… let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, if you have already written your memoirs, let the folks at SelfPublishing.com help you get to print. We have a publishing program for pretty much every budget.
Historical update: This article originally ran a few years back. I’m still here so that means I have still managed to outlive my dad, although I had an interesting few years sandwiched between this article and today. My baby has graduated from college and is now in his first year of law school. My mom turns 91 in a few weeks and I am not going to any more high school reunions. I started my memoirs at www.ronpramschufer.com but I have a long way to go. Let’s finish ours together.