Everybody has a story. Just ask retired political science teacher and Bethany Village resident Jeremy Curtoys. With some editing help from his wife, Linda, also a retired teacher, Jeremy, 69, has devoted mornings over the last two years to writing his memoir, The Waters Always Parted (named from a snippet of dialog in the novel Gilead by Marilynne Robinson).
“I thought I might be finished by the time I am 70,” Jeremy remarks, ” but I am writing chronologically, and I’m only up to 1967 – the year I came to America from Rhodesia.” Jeremy has also written two short biographical stories about childhood adventures, both of which won awards in an annual arts competition sponsored by Advocate of Not-For-Profit Services for Older Ohioans.
Jeremy began his memoir for his two sons and future generations of the Curtoys family. “I started as if I were writing a long letter,” he says, “but now I don’t care if anyone reads it! I simply enjoy the process. The more I write, the more I remember.” When we asked Jeremy for his best advice for would be memoirists, his answer came easily: “Just start!”
We have also collected a dozen additional tips for capturing your story:
1. One of the best ways to learn about memoirs is to read what others have written.
2. Perhaps you aren’t comfortable writing long narratives about yourself. Trying journaling. Write down just a few memories each day.
3. Need to “prime the pump?” Try using a Q&A book like All About Me by Phillipp Keel.
4. You don’t have to write your entire life story. Start with a certain time period or even just one event.
5. Write in the first person. Your story will have more energy.
6. Write first. Edit later.
7. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar and style in your first draft. You can fix all that later.
8. Try to reveal your goals, problems, fears, emotions, struggles and lessons learned.
9. If you have a computer but dislike typing, consider using a speech-recognition software program that lets you dictate into a microphone attached to your computer. The program converts what you dictate into a text file.
10. You can write your story on paper and hire someone to transcribe it later if you want a typed version.
11. If talking your story is more your style, use an audio device or video camera to record your story.
12. Are you more of a visual person? Try scrapbooking (or digitaL
scrapbooking). Write extended captions for your old pictures.
As you pursue writing a memoir, you will find that storytelling is a fun and fulfilling life-skill. Bethany Village has offered a well-received memoir writing class in the past. If there is enough interest, we’ll do it again. Respond to this blog to let us know if you are interested.