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Writing Family Memoirs: MEMOIRS CAPTURE SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENTS IN FAMILY HISTORIES

One of the most interesting aspects of my work is in writing family memoirs by interviewing the eldest member of the family and capturing the significant moments of their lives. I am honored to provide this service to people all over the world through telephonic interviews as well as Skype interviews, and sometimes in person. By doing these interviews, I am able to record stories from senior family members whose legacies then live on to benefit future generations.

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a variety of interesting people, such as:

  • Lawrence, a wealth advisor and investment broker who wanted his family’s ethics and values to be preserved for future generations
  • Vito, an Italian-American banking official whose very colorful memories of growing up on Long Island may someday become a comedic screen play
  • Gloria, a psychotherapist in Burbank, whose traumatic journey to her present career began with her parents sending her from Iraq to America, all alone, at the age of six to attend boarding school
  • Israel, a Chicago-born Hasidic Jew who defied his family by choosing a career path other than that of a rabbi, breaking their centuries-old lineage of high – ranking religious leaders

Everyone has a story to tell, whether of family members who fought in the war, grew up during the depression, or survived difficult circumstances that they wish to impart to others.

For my own family history, I chose to blaze paths in all four directions through my mother’s and father’s parents’ lineages, and in doing so, I learned who my ancestors were and what their struggles entailed in coming to America from Russia, Germany and Austria. Like most kids of the Baby Boomer age, I always tried to blend in and not be different, but now as I get older, it’s important to me to know more about the past.

My family histories were interesting and painful, joyous and sad, but most of all, they were enlightening. I got to interview more than 35 surviving members of one branch of my family and about two dozen for the remaining 3 branches. I learned of family feuds that kept going until death, of commonalities in the causes of death of my ancestors, and I learned of tragic losses that people bore and survived. It was fulfilling to produce these stories and it brought the surviving relatives all closer together.

Memories are important – and that’s why I love to write people’s memoirs. Once I capture stories on paper they live on after a person’s life ends. Story telling is an art and involves the ability to compassionately listen to the telling of stories, along with the ability to document and retell it in living color. It is the type of writing I enjoy doing most and the one that gives me the greatest satisfaction in doing what I do as Writer For Hire.

If you are interested in capturing the memories of a loved one, don’t wait too long. Memories can fade as one ages and waiting too long can make a big difference in the accuracy of a story. Most of all, once a person passes, there is often a big gap in information that no one else can fill.

How does it work? The process is relatively easy:

A family member serves as my point of contact with the loved one who I speak with by phone or sometimes in person. I then document their memories and turn it into a story. The process can be as short as one afternoon or it can evolve into a series of conversations that are told in the form of an essay. If more than one person wants to interact with me, I can involve them in the conversation or speak with them privately. For more information on Writing Memoirs, please email: pat@writerpatkramer.com or call me: (818) 353-5699.

I WRITE IN MY SLEEP

I don’t know how many times I have used the expression, “It’s so easy, I could do it in my sleep,”?  Well for me – it’s true: I often write in my sleep.

Sometimes it’s a continuation of projects I’m working on for clients – blogs, memoirs or a book I’m ghostwriting. Other times, it’s not the actual writing that I’m doing in my dream; it’s about me quoting a rate for a project or following up with someone who asked me to work with them previously. In each of these instances, work does not end when I turn out the light and go to sleep, but rather, continues into the different stages of the sleep cycle when my creative thoughts are swirling around in my head.

I believe this process is very common for those in the arts. I remember Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones mentioning that he often came out of dreams with songs already partially written. It was during the dream state that ideas would come to him for melodies or riffs and he would pull out his tape player and put it down on tape in the middle of the night, then go back to sleep.

Another things that I sometimes find myself doing is typing keys on my imaginary keyboard when I’m asleep. I’ve been told that my fingers move and I’ve also woken myself up doing this. Rather than this being a nervous impulse, I think it’s, again, related to what I’m dreaming about.

The late, great Stevie Ray Vaughn used to play guitar in his sleep, according to one of the biographies I read about him. He was known for practicing all the time and sleeping with his guitar next to him in bed, so that if he wanted to work out some new instrumentation in the middle of the night, he could do so without much effort.

I’ve always been able to remember my dreams – often with great detail. I’m fortunate in that this process helps me sort things out that I’m trying to resolve. Sometimes, it provides the seeds of creativity for a project, while other times, it enables me to work out complex feelings.

In last night’s dream, I was writing a blog for a former client and it was a good one, from what I can recollect. Why was I writing this blog for a former client? I have no idea. I haven’t spoken to her in a long time and I don’t recall thinking about her recently.

Does everyone act out in their dreams what they do for work? Do our dreams actually have meaning, or are they just projections of stress that we are creativity trying to sort out?  Are our dreams filled with meaning, or are they made up of random thoughts?

You decide.