William Zinsser says the crucial ingredient in memoir is people.
You must summon back the women and men and children who notably crossed your life. What makes them memorable?
Why do we remember some things and not others? Why do we remember certain people in our past?
When we write our memories we learn why they stay with us, why we must explore them.
I don't have to look hard to find something or someone to write about. The people who notably crossed my life include family members, four brothers and two sisters, a mother and a father, four sisters-in-law, two brothers-in-law, and a number of nieces and nephews. Then there is my husband and his family.
In my family history, Profiles and Pedigrees, The Descendants of Thomas Charles Council (1858-1911) my main characters were my paternal grandparents, Sally and Tom, and their ten children. With those children came spouses and their children. Each family had a historian who shared the life stories of his or her parents. It was interesting to me what each person remembered. The stories were not all the same because what one remembers is not the same as what another remembers. One of my male cousins described the automobile his father drove and how impressed he was with the car his uncle owned. His memories came from his childhood, and I have found that automobiles often bring back memories when we begin to write about our lives.
Think about your first car. How did it make you feel? What did it look like? What make and model was it? Did you do something special the first day you had it? Who were the people who rode in your car? Write about your adventures and travels in your first car? What memories come back to you when you think about that car? How did it smell? Did you wash your car or have it washed? What did you keep in your car all the time? Did you inherit your first car? Was it brand new off the lot?
|My husband, Barry, liked sports cars. We rode in this one when we were young marrieds.|