Why Write a Memoir?


Outtakes 184

Why Write a Memoir?

By Cait Collins

 

The quick answer to the question is, why not? We all have something to say about our lives or periods of our lives. That said, a memoir can be an effective communication tool. Sometimes we might want to just tell a story, but some memoirs have a distinct purpose. The reasons to write a memoir include: to inspire, to inform, and to persuade.

Everyone has experienced tragedy or challenges. How did you overcome the problem?

Did you fall into a deep depression? What made you decide to work your way back? Have you ever watched a child struggle to excel despite learning disabilities? What made the effort so memorable and what affect did it have on you? Mapping the journey from tragedy to triumph may inspire someone else to find a path to recovery. Your words may be the spark for one person to determine to overcome the problems in his life. We all need inspiration to smooth out the rough edges of our experiences. I wrote First Love; Forever Love as a means to let others know there is hope.

“What kind of computer games did you play when you were a kid?” This question came from a student in my Sunday morning Bible class. “My childhood was long before the computer age. I didn’t touch a computer until I was in my 30’s.” His eyes bulged. “No computers? What did you do for fun?”Obviously my young friend did not know it was possible to enjoy life without staring at a computer screen. Tables, a work in progress, tells of growing up a military brat in the 50’s and 60’s. We had a blast back then. Kids today don’t know what they missed, but I hope they will learn from the stories.

Former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee, uses reminences of growing up in the South to portray life in the heartland or the “fly-over zone.” His commentary offers a contrast in the culture between the .east and west coasts and Middle America. God, Guns, Grits and Gravy explains how and why we are so different. Sweetened with humor, spiced with down-home sayings, and peppered with sarcasm, Governor Huckabee makes a strong case for the simpler way of life. He has convinced me my momma and daddy and his parents must have known each other well, because my folks didn’t tolerate disrespect and disobedience any more the Governor’s did. I normally speed read a book, but I’m slowing down so that I can savor the narrative. It is a good read and very persuasive.

Memoirs should not be relegated to the lives of the rich and famous. History is not just the deeds of great men and women; it is also the stories of everyday folks who lived their lives quietly, doing their best to make a living, raise their children, and get along with their fellow man. The stories of all races, nationalities, cultures, and backgrounds weave the fabric of the human experience. All stories are necessary to complete the pattern of history. So why write a memoir?

Why not write a memoir?

Hersheyburger


Hersheyburger

by Sharon Stevens

A few years ago we had a student and his family stop in buying college textbooks. We learned they were from Muleshoe Texas, and we asked if they knew my husband’s aunt, Bertie Purcell and the Dari Delite, her little business, a local eatery and high school hang out in that town.

HERSHEYBURGER! He shouted and then shared the story. Bertie would take a cinnamon roll, slice it in half, and then unwrap a Hershey bar and lay it in the middle. She would put it back together, slather the whole thing with butter, wrap the concoction in foil, and put it on the grill just long enough to heat and melt the chocolate bar. Served with a Twin Coney, French fries and a Coke this was a meal fit for… fit for…the masses.

The man who shared this story at our bookstore that day was in military service to our country and taking online courses. His wife was in school to become a teacher. His daughter was in law school and one of his sons was also in college. Here was a family man spending hundreds of thousands of dollars so everyone could attend college, paying bills to support his family, buying groceries to feed them, and he could still take just a moment to share one of the most wonderful memories of his life.

Aunt Bertie died this past week, and the church was packed at her funeral. She and her family were beloved by so many. All around me I heard murmurings of, “Twin Coneys”, and “Cherry Vanilla Newton”, and “Purple Cows”. When I asked what a “Newton” was the man said he had no clue, this was something Bertie concocted, but it was his favorite.

We had tourists come into our bookstore after having been horseback riding in Palo Duro Canyon all day. They were hot and tired and looking for someplace to cool off and they had promised the wives to do a little shopping. They had come from The Hide Out next door and wanted to know what else Canyon had to offer. I noticed they had spurs on and knew where to send them. First I directed them to our courthouse square and told them about the Rock and Roll Soda Shop, or the Palace Coffee House to find some refreshment. I then told them not to miss Stevens Flowers and Down Home next door (spurs), and shared about all the other shops downtown. They instantly hit on the soda shop because they had great memories of a hang out in their town where burgers, fries, a Cocoa Cola (Coke) and an ice cream cone was all they needed to survive.

They didn’t come back by to explain if they had found what they were looking for. There is no doubt in my heart as God and John Wayne are my witness, that they would connect somewhere along the line.  THEIRS would be the memories they would take back home to share.

So many times in our writings we get so wrapped up in telling our stories we forget the reader may find something totally random to connect with. We push, and push, and push some more to get our point across till we have lost sight of the heart of our stories. We want anyone and everyone to understand our point of view. How can they not when its as plain as day. We forget they may need something light when facing something so dark, or vice versa. Or they could be facing a puzzlement, seeking a solution, needing just the right clue from their past for the answer to click.

You cannot force a reader no matter how hard you try. Celebrate what each finds in your writings. It’s okay. Your story isn’t ruined if they don’t “get it” the way you wrote it. And on another token, follow the direction it may lead you.

After all I envisioned a whole different path when I started writing about the “Hersheyburger”. It wasn’t that I would be telling the story about diabetes or cholesterol. I knew “the masses” would get that. I just thought I would be connecting it with band-aids. Who knew?

Rest in memories, Bertie Purcell.

Sharon Stevens

Hersheyburger


Hersheyburger

by Sharon Stevens

A few years ago we had a student and his family stop in buying college textbooks. We learned they were from Muleshoe Texas, and we asked if they knew my husband’s aunt, Bertie Purcell and the Dari Delite, her little business, a local eatery and high school hang out in that town.

HERSHEYBURGER! He shouted and then shared the story. Bertie would take a cinnamon roll, slice it in half, and then unwrap a Hershey bar and lay it in the middle. She would put it back together, slather the whole thing with butter, wrap the concoction in foil, and put it on the grill just long enough to heat and melt the chocolate bar. Served with a Twin Coney, French fries and a Coke this was a meal fit for… fit for…the masses.

The man who shared this story at our bookstore that day was in military service to our country and taking online courses. His wife was in school to become a teacher. His daughter was in law school and one of his sons was also in college. Here was a family man spending hundreds of thousands of dollars so everyone could attend college, paying bills to support his family, buying groceries to feed them, and he could still take just a moment to share one of the most wonderful memories of his life.

Aunt Bertie died this past week, and the church was packed at her funeral. She and her family were beloved by so many. All around me I heard murmurings of, “Twin Coneys”, and “Cherry Vanilla Newton”, and “Purple Cows”. When I asked what a “Newton” was the man said he had no clue, this was something Bertie concocted, but it was his favorite.

We had tourists come into our bookstore after having been horseback riding in Palo Duro Canyon all day. They were hot and tired and looking for someplace to cool off and they had promised the wives to do a little shopping. They had come from The Hide Out next door and wanted to know what else Canyon had to offer. I noticed they had spurs on and knew where to send them. First I directed them to our courthouse square and told them about the Rock and Roll Soda Shop, or the Palace Coffee House to find some refreshment. I then told them not to miss Stevens Flowers and Down Home next door (spurs), and shared about all the other shops downtown. They instantly hit on the soda shop because they had great memories of a hang out in their town where burgers, fries, a Cocoa Cola (Coke) and an ice cream cone was all they needed to survive.

They didn’t come back by to explain if they had found what they were looking for. There is no doubt in my heart as God and John Wayne are my witness, that they would connect somewhere along the line.  THEIRS would be the memories they would take back home to share.

So many times in our writings we get so wrapped up in telling our stories we forget the reader may find something totally random to connect with. We push, and push, and push some more to get our point across till we have lost sight of the heart of our stories. We want anyone and everyone to understand our point of view. How can they not when its as plain as day. We forget they may need something light when facing something so dark, or vice versa. Or they could be facing a puzzlement, seeking a solution, needing just the right clue from their past for the answer to click.

You cannot force a reader no matter how hard you try. Celebrate what each finds in your writings. It’s okay. Your story isn’t ruined if they don’t “get it” the way you wrote it. And on another token, follow the direction it may lead you.

After all I envisioned a whole different path when I started writing about the “Hersheyburger”. It wasn’t that I would be telling the story about diabetes or cholesterol. I knew “the masses” would get that. I just thought I would be connecting it with band-aids. Who knew?

Rest in memories, Bertie Purcell.

Sharon Stevens