The Memoir Challenge: Write One!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Today, I challenge every writer, no matter the genre normally preferred, to capture just one memoir albeit your personal journey, stories from an elderly relative or that of an antique, a local building or pillar of the community. Why? Because we're losing our history, that's why.

In this throw-away world where media moguls promote multiple tips on how to organize and clear out the clutter, everything from grandmother's hats from a bygone era to family heirlooms are being tossed, given away or sold. And unfortunately, by the time today's young adults grow tired of the interior designed cookie cutter look of their pristine environments, and figure out the importance of their own personal history, it will be too late.

Writers are in a unique position to preserve and protect familial stories. And they should.

Since the publication of We Bought A WWII Bomber, I have been inundated with folks sharing wonderful stories from their elderly relatives. When I ask if someone has written them down or recorded them, I usually get a blank stare followed by, "well I guess I should." Trust me, if you don't do it, you'll never remember them nor will they be there for your children and their children. This came home to me many years ago, after my mother passed away. She had been the one person--every family has them--who knew who was related to whom and the details of family stories real or imagined. She was always there so I never thought much about that history. After she passed, there was no one to ask. The stories were gone.

Today, I was informed of the passing of 100-year old Maj.Arval Streadbeck, the WWII Captain of the B-17 bomber who was the focus of the story of the "Buy a Bomber" program. Then Capt. Streadbeck, ordered his crew of six to bail in dense fog not knowing what was under them. Because of his orders, his crew survived and lived to continue to serve their country when seven other bombers that crashed that same day produced different results. Fortunately, I was able to use his expertise and insight into the crash shortly after meeting him in 2015. Mentally sharp at 99-years of age, he edited the chapter on the crash and wrote the most wonderful foreword for the book. Now his legacy will live on for his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Even though I had only known him for less than two years and through a few telephone calls, his passing has left me profoundly sad. His story will live on, not only in the pages of this book, but also in an historical marker that will be placed near the crash site.


None of this would have been possible if someone hadn't decided to tell this story.

So whose story can you tell? Surly there are family stories that need to be captured. And who better to do it than YOU a writer? It shouldn't matter if you never publish it. How many wonderful stories or starts to stories are sitting in your files right now? I'm guessing quite a few. So why not add some more but this time, take them from real life, your life or the life of a family member; something important that tells your history as only you can do it. Unless your history is something extraordinary, it's unlikely that a traditional publisher would want it. But so what? You can always do a photo book or self-publish it via one of the print-on-demand (POD) online publishing houses, places willing to help you publish a book for little or no cost, or you could just file it on your computer, but I encourage you to print it off and store the copy with important papers just in case no one can figure out your passwords or technology changes to the point where stored information is inaccessible at a later date.

So get out that digital recorder and start capturing those stories. You never know when something in your history might make history itself.

Have you written your memoir yet? If every writer wrote just one memoir, think of all the history that would be preserved!

*****

Memoirs written by Sandra Warren:

We Bought A WWII Bomber: The Untold Story of a Michigan High School, a B-17 Bomber & The Blue Ridge Parkway. 
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUmxqhIpadI

Hidden Casualties: Battles On The Home Front, By Sara Raye with Sandra Warren, Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/jgg2t6v 

When Duty Called: Even Grandma Had To Go, By Dianah Kwiatkowski as told to Sandra Warren 
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/hyxuv62


Author of Arlie the Alligator and other books for children and adults!








7 comments:

Sally Matheny said...

I love this post. I recently encouraged a military wife to write letters in addition to her regular skype sessions with her deployed husband. I gave her children journals and reminded them what they record there will outlast their text messages.
You are right. Time erases memories. We must record the past and the present to share with generations of the future.

Sandra Warren said...

Thank you for your comment, Sally and for encouraging that military wife and children to write in journals. What a great idea!

Somehow we have to convince the younger generations how important history, their history, their experience, their journey will be to future generations. Writing it all down is a start.

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Sandra,
Thanks for reminding us that it is a great idea to write a memoir!

Do something fun today.
You deserve it.

Carol Baldwin said...

you are absolutely right. Went to a meeting of Korean Vets in the villages. They're afraid of their dwindling numbers...

Sandra Warren said...

So many stories, such rich history -- lost because no one took the time to write it down.

Thanks for you comments Carol and Joan.

Gretchen Griffith said...

I'm sorry to hear about Captain Streadbeck. I'd guess you thought of him as a friend after working with him on this memoir. Yes, we do need to collect the stories before it's too late.

Sandra Warren said...

Yes, Gretchen, I did think of Capt./Major Streadbeck as a friend even though we never met. His charm and wit and humor at 99-years of age when I interviewed him, is evident in the wonderful foreword he graced my book with. I understand he was mentally sharp up until the end.

Thank you for you comment.

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Hi! I’m Sandra Warren, a writer with very eclectic writing tastes. I’ve been fortunate to have publications in multiple genres including children’s, gifted education, parenting, how to, poetry, journal, educational activity guides and biography as well as audio and video production. I'm a city gal recently transplanted to the mountains of NC where glorious mountain vistas inspire latest renderings.

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