“What is our legacy? What do we leave behind after we’re gone?”
With these two succinct questions, TV news anchor John Yang led into a recent PBS NewsHour report that took LifeBook Memoirs back onto the American airwaves. Broadcast on May 21, 2023, the NewsHour report looked at the role that technology and professional writing services are playing in bringing memoir-writing within reach of the many and not just the few.
In the five-minute report, PBS meets an author who realized her dream of writing a memoir and some professionals who help others to accomplish the same ambition. We hear them discuss the motivations that lead people to write a memoir. And they are, it seems, many and varied. Writing a memoir can be an opportunity to share lessons learned, to impart wisdom, and to provide inspiration. It can be a way to preserve anecdotes and stories; a chance to look back and understand a life lived. Such motivations, we hear, are not mutually exclusive: an author can be driven by any number of them.
Questions and challenges
We also hear about the questions that authors need to consider at the outset of any memoir project. Who am I writing for – my family? My colleagues? Myself? What value will my memoir have for them?
The reporter then touches upon some of the frustrations that can throw any writer off kilter. The challenges of finding inspiration when “writer’s block” strikes, for instance. And tailoring your writing to suit both an audience and the conventions of the memoir genre can be daunting. Writing, after all, is a creative endeavor, and creativity can be a messy ordeal. So, these problems are often encountered by those who set out to write a memoir.
Not all wannabe memoir writers have the energy or desire to bat their way through such frustrations. The report goes on to shine a light on the memoir-writing industry. The burgeoning number of apps and professional services that can help are included. From designing layouts to providing full ghostwriting and editorial assistance and offering related services, companies such as LifeBook Memoirs can help conceptualize, develop, design, and print with as much or as little input as the author needs.
A job well done
As well as the frustrations of memoir writing, PBS makes plain the rewards of a job well done. The excitement – and perhaps relief – in the author’s face as she holds up her completed memoir for the camera is palpable and heartwarming. Another speaker talks of the opportunity that memoir projects present for human connection.
With all this in mind, the report then introduces two familiar faces from LifeBook Memoirs – Gail Trecosta, our US recruiter, and one of our wonderful interviewers, Manisha Macksood – to discuss the marked difference that interviewers can make to a memoir project. Gail speaks about how fundamental they are in helping to unlock people’s stories. Not everyone is a natural storyteller, after all. And, few of us have the ability to tell which parts of our own stories might be interesting to others.
Of all the people who appear in the PBS NewsHour report, it is Manisha who provides the over-arching takeaway: “I really believe that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what kind of background you have; there’s always a story there.” It’s an opinion backed by James R. Hagerty, the Wall Street Journal obituary writer who appears in the film. James talks about writing the obituary of an elderly lady who “could tell me more about Warren G. Harding than she could about Donald Trump.” Nobody other than her friends and loved ones knew about this lady. And yet, hers became one of the Journal’s most-read obituaries. That’s quite something, and it reflects the impact that memoirs can have as much as the thirst that so many people have for reading them.
A story worth sharing
With millions of people tuning in each day to watch PBS NewsHour, we at LifeBook Memoirs are delighted that so many have had the chance to hear that very message. Everyone has a story worth sharing. And LifeBook Memoirs can provide the help you need to transform yours into a tangible, physical legacy to leave behind for your loved ones.
Written by the LifeBook Memoirs editorial team