Ta Dah! The Book Is Here
Today marks a major milestone for me. The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing: How to Transform Memories into Meaningful Stories hits the shelves. Let me fill you in on some back story and features of the book.
This book evolved from a growing pile of handouts I made over the last several years. After several years, many overlapped, formatting was inconsistent, and trying to figure out which handout to use for what group had become a headache, so I decided to consolidate all the handouts in a unified collection. I had it printed at the local UPS copy shop, directly from disk, an economical approach I highly recommend. That original volume was over one hundred full-size pages, and cumbersome to reprint. The obvious solution was a formal book.
In 1994 Lighthouse Point Press published my previous book, Meetings: Do’s, Don’ts and Donuts. That book went into a second edition, and we enjoyed working together so much that I contacted them about this new project, which they were also enthusiastic about — and here we are now.
The decision to compile this book was not made easily. There were already dozens of excellent books on the topic of writing memoir and lifestory, and I’ve read most of them. Each has a slightly different view of the process. Some are general, and others focus more narrowly, for example on writing to heal. None gave a comprehensive overview of the entire process of producing a finished lifestory volume. I decided to address that void.
The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing takes you down intertwining paths: planning and writing. Rather than prescribing a single approach, I show the elements of the process, from defining a purpose, listing story ideas, writing, editing, compiling a story collection and deciding how to print it.
Although you obviously can’t print unwritten stories, many elements can be done randomly (or skipped entirely), and interspersed with writing. You’ll find guidelines for selecting a path through this wilderness that will get you where you want to go, whether that’s to simply write a few spontaneous stories, complete a life-overview, or something in between. This is your story, and you must write it your way. This book is your road atlas with a full range of highways and byways.
A “heart” section on writing the initial story follows the planning section. The rest of the book is devoted to the “craft” of editing, rewriting and organizing collections. Most common grammar and punctuation questions are answered, with reference to further resources.
Just as the beginning is unique in providing a map rather than a list of steps, the final section includes information not found in other books. It is devoted to helping you work with your computer. Detailed instructions are included for selecting page size, setting margins, adjusting line height, choosing readable fonts, inserting graphics, using headers and footers, and more. Whether you use Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, or WordPerfect, you’ll find user-tested lists of steps necessary to complete each task. Instructions are specific enough to guide you through the necessary steps, and include a strong conceptual basis so if you have a somewhat older or newer version, you should still be able to follow along.
You’ll also find guidelines to help you decide whether to print copies on your own printer, use a copy shop, or upload your file to a Print-On-Demand publisher such as Lulu.com.
My purpose in writing this book was to help demystify the sometimes intimidating process, not only of writing, but sharing your lifestories with family, friends and maybe even the world. I’ve done my part. The book is there. I hope it will put wind under the wings of your writing, and perhaps you can use it to encourage others to start writing with you.
May your stories flow strongly and steadily! Please drop me an e-mail at Ritergal@gmail.com and let me know how it goes.
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal