October 22, 2012

Publishing Makes Memoirs Permanent

What do you gift your Writing Group friend who’s celebrating the same birth year as Paula Abdul and Demi Moore?

Book Cover of Snakes in the Bedroom: A Memoir
Published memoirs wait for sharing
Definitely not the tacky yard signs and black streamers popular when those of us hailing from the same decade as Cinderella and Pinocchio reached our mid-century mark.
Something special, of course, but what? While I waited for an idea to surface, Mary came up with the perfect idea. (Not this blogger, The Other Mary of the writing group that still wants a name) She suggested that we publish the honoree’s memoirs. A celebration of her writings; an encouragement to write more.
That set us on a two-month romp to gather the stories—surreptitiously—edit, and print. Emails flew: Has anyone edited this story? Who has the “skipping school” story? What about the book title? Did she really write that?   
Artistic Jan painted the childhood home from one story. Mary’s Alan photographed other Louisiana locales. Tina—while rocking newborn Alex—penned the jacket blurb that rivals any I read in my favorite bookstore. I contributed my singular talent by writing a foreword.
Blurb logo
Blurb published
We left the work of matching pictures to stories, designing the layout, and printing to The Other Mary. Nearing the birthday party date, she teased us with an emailed look at the cover. Then she did a reveal that rivaled HGTV in oohs and ahs. The following two-week wait for the celebration was worse than a kid anticipating Christmas. And we were giving the gift.
Feeling like seven-year-olds presenting plaster-of-Paris paperweights on Mother’s Day, we prepared ourselves for the probability that presents wouldn’t be opened during the party. Nevertheless, we placed The Gift strategically and hovered nearby, our body language shouting, “Open mine; open mine.” She did.
Seeing her eyes cloud with near tears, we swallowed lumps. As the book was passed around and old school friends, subjects of some of the stories, proudly claimed knowledge of a tale, we nodded understanding.
I recently read a pundit’s opinion that birthdays beyond age 20 no longer need cake and candles. Last year, I blogged that every birthday need not be celebrated like a Roman holiday. Both ideas may be true, but when you come across that perfect gift, the occasion merits a full-out Mardi Gras affair.
Beyond the warm fuzzy this gift gave, it put action to words. Nickie’s reminiscences are no longer just oral stories shared during nostalgic moments or scribbled tales tucked away for “someday.” Her school years’ shenanigans have taken permanent form—titled, illustrated, published. Suddenly, they look professional and important. Important enough that all of us who have stories—and we all do—should get busy putting them on paper and collecting those papers into a forever form. 

What would it take for you to start writing the stories of your life?  OR What stories have you already written?  Has anyone else in your family published a family memoir?

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