Understanding and Empathy: LifeBook Memoirs for Ex-Military Personnel

Over the past 10 years, LifeBook Memoirs has established a tradition of publishing autobiographies by authors with military backgrounds. How do we bring these stories to the page while ensuring they are handled with the sensitivity they deserve?

There is a reason why military events and military figures come to define periods of history; they are among the most significant and noteworthy aspects of our times. LifeBook Memoirs has the utmost respect for members of the armed forces and the services they render, and many authors with a military background have chosen to write their stories with us. For these authors, providing their family and friends with an insight into the events they have witnessed and helped to shape has been a profound gift.

However, military authors sometimes raise a number of concerns with us: how can I be sure my story will be represented accurately? How can I ensure that some aspects remain confidential? How can I discuss my thoughts on certain events if I’m a private person?

The LifeBook Memoirs process is designed to address such concerns. The members of each project team—the dedicated ghostwriter, interviewer, editor, and project manager—have years of experience in bringing stories to life, and they sign confidentiality agreements at the beginning of each new project. Our authors are then free to discuss their experiences without reservations.

Each project team member is carefully selected to align with an author’s requirements. Authors are able to request an interviewer with a similar background—for instance, someone with an understanding or experience of the military and an empathy for this subject matter. Interviewers are experienced, professional, and understanding, and, over 15 hours of interviews, authors often become increasingly comfortable in discussing the ups and downs of their lives. Indeed, they often find that their interviews reveal stories they had forgotten and provide valuable insights into their past. Creating a sense of narrative from one’s own history can be a truly life-affirming experience.

In addition, authors are free from the constraints of a typical writer. Some authors prefer their memoir to focus solely on their military career; others enjoy the contrast between their military and their family duties. Events can be summarized, or they can be discussed in great detail. Either way, ghostwriters write in the style and tone chosen by the author, and the content of a book is entirely under the author’s control—anything can be removed, added, or changed at any stage of the process.

Before a project begins, the author can discuss any concerns with their project manager to make sure that we precisely create the book they want, and, throughout the writing process, every member of the team is just a phone call away. At the end of the project, we do not typeset, print, or bind any book before we receive the author’s stamp of approval.

Military service is often intense and varied, which lends it to the written word. However, it is not always easy to discuss. Many parents would like to reveal more of themselves to their children, and many children would like to know more about their parents. Writing an autobiography is an opportunity to describe things which might be challenging to address in normal conversation.

We have found that everyone who receives a LifeBook from a loved one is amazed and moved at what they read inside. We have received countless testimonies from authors who have found that their LifeBooks have affirmed their life stories and the most important relationships in their lives. Anyone can write a powerful memoir, regardless of their experiences or personality, and writing a LifeBook is an enjoyable, easy, and life-changing experience—truly, the gift of a lifetime.

Written by Ben Creeth, LifeBook Memoirs editor

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