A client of mine is in the process of writing the story of her father’s (extraordinary) life. As her father passed away decades ago, my client was desperate to preserve his memory and help her children and grandchildren understand and appreciate the truth of their amazing family history.
But my client ran into a stumbling block early in the process. While she had a few anecdotes to tell, many of her recollections were vague, as her dad had died when she was just a young girl. Memories were disjointed and confusing, and she wasn’t sure how to proceed. In an effort to develop the story, my client turned to her sister for her own remembrances.
Not surprisingly, the sister had her own tales to tell, and they set up a time to talk. And so one night, the sisters, now living in different states, spoke on the telephone at length, sharing secret details of their childhood. Each learned new, vital information about the father they knew for too-short a period of time and strengthened their understanding of their sibling. Each sister, they discovered, had been impacted by their father in significant, yet previously unspoken, ways.
My client’s work is not done. She is still in the process of writing the first draft, in fact, but rewards of her efforts have already been realized.
We all think about the stories we want to preserve for our children. We believe that writing our family history will enlighten our descendants. But in truth, we as authors learn during the process of writing as well. In an effort to educate our children, we do our research, we speak to our family, we sift through boxes and junk drawers.
We learn for ourselves. And we deepen our relationships.
And all this, before the first word is even written.