I confess, that level of participation surprised me – but the more I think about it, the more pleasing it is. And not just from a business standpoint – as far as my client is aware, she is the only one working with a ghost writer like me; the rest seem to be slogging through their memoirs on their own.
No, what delights me is the thought that memoirs are becoming standard issue heirlooms – rather like wedding portraits or good jewelry, something that each generation simply expects to hand down to their descendants for posterity, safe-keeping and ideally treasuring.
Not many people I know have memoirs written by their grandparents, though many people wish they did – something I often remind prospective clients when they are vacillating on whether to sign on to write their own. “I’m not sure I’m interesting enough,” they demur modestly.
“If I told you that in this box was a memoir your great-grandmother had written, would you say ‘Oh, I doubt it’s very interesting,’?” I ask them.
“No,” they concede, “I’d grab it and start reading.”
Of course they would. And if my client’s reports of her fellow classmates from sixty years ago are accurate, this is an opportunity that all of their great-grandchildren will soon have.
I’m not sure when wedding photography became commonplace, but certainly all of my married friends display a wedding photo somewhere in their home, and so do the married couples I know from my parents’ generation, people now in their seventies or eighties. It would be unusual if a couple who got married within the past fifty years did not possess photos from their wedding. It’s something we expect to have access to, if our parents are married. How pleasing to think that memoirs may be reaching this same status – an artifact traditionally handed down from generation to generation, treasured for its sentiment, but not for its rarity.
My clients tend to give copies of their memoirs to their children and grandchildren. Sometimes those memoirs occupy a place of honor on a coffee table; other times they’re filed in the bookshelf with dozens of other books to be read someday.
And that’s fine. The memoirs exist and are there when would-be readers want to find them. They might be picked up no more than once or twice a year, just as wedding photos sometimes go overlooked for long periods. But the books will be there when they are wanted.
I like that idea. I hope my client’s classmates all succeed, whether on their own or with help from memoir writers like me, and I hope this trend is indicative of the future. Every young person should have the opportunity to read his or her great-grandparent’s story. I’m happy for any role I might have in helping to make that happen – or seeing it happening without any help from me at all.
Need help getting started – or getting finished – with your memoir? Please be in touch any time to discuss!