Having a Cause or Mission Can Fuel Your Memoir

There are many good reasons to write a memoir or autobiography, and as a ghostwriter and book coach of personal life stories I consistently hear those diverse motivations for going public with something that happened. One common driving force is the desire to launch or support an important mission or cause. Two newly published books by clients I have assisted do that in a strong and powerful way.

Cheryl Hughes Musick lost her daughter, her first-born child, to drug addiction. Misty, a talented pianist and singer who lifted spirits whenever she walked into a room, was only 34 years old when a drug-caused auto accident took her life. When tragedy struck, she was only months removed from serving time in jail for crimes triggered by her habit. She had gone clean while incarcerated and things were looking up in her life. She was teaching yoga classes, leading worship groups and reconnecting with her three children. Her mother was right beside her in the quest to steer clear of drugs and transform her life. But Misty didn’t make it, and Cheryl was devastated. In her grief, however, something else took hold: a desire to sound the alarm for other addicts and their families to take action now so that they didn’t suffer the same fate as her daughter and family.

Her new book, “The Day the Musick Died: A Mother-Daughter Addiction Journey of Suffering, Loss and a Ray of Hope” recounts the many years of trying to help Misty help herself. It also touches hearts and minds in a way that any good memoir will do, and it leaves readers inspired to try to make a difference in our nation’s serious battle against drug addiction and its horrendous impact. You can learn more about this compelling book and Cheryl’s mission here:

https://www.amazon.com/Day-Musick-Died-Mother-Daughter-Addiction/dp/1540856437/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485978289&sr=1-1&keywords=day+the+musick+died

Kim Moretto Niemeier has a different kind of mission. She believes that World War II stories still need to be told, and that it’s now up to the children of those who served to bring those stories to light. Her father, Fred Moretto, was a fighter pilot whose Thunderbolt was shot down over France six days after D-Day. Simple farmers and villagers who supported the French resistance risked their own lives to hide Fred from the Germans for more than two months, before the Allies liberated the country. Fred never forgot their heroism, and almost 50 years later, urged on by his daughter Kim, he returned to France and reunited with those who saved him . Kim was right there, tears in her eyes, to see the joyful and poignant reunion, and it inspired her to dig deeper into what happened to her dad. That quest continued even after his passing and resulted in her book, “In the Hands of Strangers: A World War II Story of Courage, Heroism and and Enduring Friendship”:

https://www.amazon.com/Hands-Strangers-Kim-Moretto-Niemeier/dp/1524544728/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485978889&sr=1-1&keywords=in+the+hands+of+strangers

Do you have a mission or cause to support in a memoir or autobiography that you need to write?

– Kevin Quirk, Memoir Ghostwriter at Life Is a Book

Two Books with Timely and Inspiring Messages

Writing your life story can be a rewarding and effective way to inspire other people, either by providing an uplifting perspective about dealing with hardships and challenges in life or by demonstrating how to take action to create a positive difference in the world. Two recent books from my fraternity of clients, colleagues, and friends stand as excellent examples.

“10 and 90: The Tackle That Changed Everything” by Logan Seelye (http://www.10and90.com/book/) tells the story of a high school football star, with dreams of playing in the NFL, whose athletic future was wiped out by the tackle that left him with a spinal cord injury. But Logan Seelye did not stay down for long. With the love and support of his girlfriend, family, teammates, coach, and community, he stood up to the challenge of living with a debilitating injury and rebuilt his life with passion, commitment, and success. The philosophy that guides him is that life is only 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent what you do with it. His message is sending ripples through everyone he meets or speaks to.

“Education: The Great Equalizer” by George B. Thomas, Sr. (http://www.amazon.com/Education-Equalizer-Successful-Saturday-Montgomery/dp/1364959631/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461178453&sr=1-1&keywords=education+the+great+equalizer+thomas) chronicles the many achievements of a man who grew up in a family of sharecroppers in rural South Carolina. After serving as a teacher, principal, administrator, and college president, Dr. Thomas finds a new mission: launching and growing a Saturday School program to boost the academic progress and inspire needy public school students in Montgomery County, Maryland. His program serves as a model for any group of educators or parents who want to do something more, and something positive, for the school children in their midst.

Do you have a book that can inspire others? Maybe it’s time to get going on that project right now!

– Kevin Quirk, ghostwriter of memoirs and autobiographies and author of “Your Life Is a Book – And It’s Time to Write It!”

When You Are Writing Your Memoir or Autobiography, Remember That You Are Part of Your Audience

If you are writing a memoir or autobiography, at some point you will find yourself thinking about your intended audience. Who will read your book? Most likely, family, friends, and loved ones will be part of your readership. Perhaps it will extend to others in your community. You may be hoping to reach, encourage, or support others who have had a similar life experience as you. And maybe you have your eyes fixed on a wide audience, with your book going viral across mainstream and social media!

Getting clear about your audience will certainly help you establish your voice, tone, and direction for your memoir or autobiography. As I tell my students in my Writing Your Life Story classes, as well as those I assist as memoir or autobiography ghostwriter or book coach, sometimes it can help to imagine yourself sitting at your kitchen table telling your story to a friend over a cup of coffee. That’s how you bring your readership into focus and anticipate what will help them grasp and appreciate what you have to say.

However, as you zero in on that audience, make sure you don’t forget one very important target reader: YOU! That’s right, somehow or other you will need to be able to read your completed memoir or autobiography and feel engaged in the story and enriched by the experience of absorbing yourself in it. Ideally, you will find something new or unexpected in the story that you told, and how you wrote it. You may believe that you are writing your life story for the benefit of others, and that certainly is a vital part of your mission, but I have come to recognize that we as authors are also writing for the benefit of ourselves. Writing your life story is a special endeavor, and you will absolutely gain from the experience of doing it and then reading what you have created.

So when you ask yourself whether you are reaching your target audience, remember to include this question: “Will my audience, including ME, be engaged in this story, and if not, what adjustments do I need to make to change that?”

– Kevin Quirk helps women and men of all ages and backgrounds tell the most important stories of their life in his work as a personal historian and memoir and autobiography ghostwriter. He is co-author of “Brace for Impact: Miracle on the Hudson Survivors Share Their Stories of Near Death and Hope for New Life” and author of “Your Life Is a Book – And It’s Time to Write It!”

Autobiography Ghostwriter Kevin Quirk Soaks Up Past Memories by Going Back to Hometown

As a 5 year child, I remember riding in my parents’ Chevrolet station wagon while we rode up and down what seemed like crater-sized holes on Pinedale Road in my hometown of Shrewsbury, MA. Up, down. Up, down. It was just like a roller-coaster. Finally we would arrive at our house on this short dirt road, across the street from Maironis Park and the shores of Lake Quinsigamond. We moved from that house a year later, but we would return to visit my grandparents in my childhood home for many years thereafter. The crater holes never get filled in. Up, down. Up, down.

A few weeks ago I was planning my 60th birthday reminiscing tour. I had Googled my tiny road and in one search, Pinedale Road didn’t show up. That was not surprising. I had not been back there in 30 years and even then the area was being swallowed up by apartments and condos. So I was fully prepared to return to the scene of Pinedale Road and find…no Pinedale Road.

Instead, I found just what I had left. Pinedale Road was there. The crater holes remained, just as I remembered them back in 1959. In our new 2014 Camry we rode up, down, up, down. Our old house was still there, too, the hedges that I used to trim for my grandmother needing some attention. An image of my past had somehow been frozen, seemingly just for me. And as I focus more of my time and energy on writing my own life story, while I also assist clients from all over the country in writing their autobiography in my role as ghostwriter and personal historian, I embraced this moment as a valuable and inspirational gift.

I made several other reminiscing stops. Our swimming area on Lake Quinsigamond was no longer public, which didn’t stop form walking the path to the same location. The stone wall we would climb to lay our blanket for a lazy August afternoon remained. I can remember lingering there for hours, alternating quick dips in the chilly water with eating our bologna sandwiches and munching Stateline potato chips.

I returned to Calvin Coolidge Elementary School. It had been added on to, probably at least twice, but the original section appeared intact. I spotted my fourth grade classroom with the windows overlooking the playground. And the playground itself was still much as I remembered it. I had a vivid memory of the mean second grade teacher who pinched my chin while yelling at me for eating my mom’s banana bread where I apparently wasn’t supposed to.

When I approached my primary childhood home on Lake Street, I lucked out. The folks living in a neighbor’s house were having a yard sale. I spoke to the woman living there and apparently our house was still owned by the man who bought it from my parents in 1972. He had doubled the size but the long driveway was much as I remembered it, and so were the woods headed down to the lake shore. I would spend hours meandering in those woods with my dog Gus, and then I’d take out our canoe – the fastest canoe on the lake!.

A short drive up to Edgemere Park revealed the basketball court where I first played pick-up games as a 12 year old. I swear I once hit five long shots in a row on that court…

All in all, my reminisce-and-remember tour of my hometown fed my desire to go back…and to honor where I had lived, and what I had experienced there. If you are writing your life story today, and you moved away from your hometown long ago, have you gone back to sift through your memories, to hunt for clues, to usher yourself back into a time and place that will inspire your autobiographical writing? If not, consider scheduling a return trip soon. Whether things there are the same or very different, the memories are there waiting for you.

– Autobiography ghostwriter Kevin Quirk assists women and men of all ages and backgrounds, from hometowns from Maine to California, in writing their life story. He is the author of “Your Life Is a Book And It’s Time to Write It! An A-to-Z Guide to Help Anyone Write Their Life Story.”

If You Don’t Actually Know All Your Facebook Friends, Try Meeting Them in Person Like Ty Morin and Mikel McLaughlin

Do you really KNOW all your Facebook friends? Would you recognize more than half of them if you walked by them on the street? Does your group of Facebook friends include some people that you have never even met personally, or at least have not seen in decades?

For many of us, assembling a large group of Facebook friends has become a social norm. And part of that norm is to beef up that list with people we don’t really, actually know. I recently came across articles about two Facebook regulars who have set out to change that. They took a vow to go out in the world in search of their Facebook friends, and to meet with them face-to-face, rather than laptop to laptop.

The first pioneer was Ty Morin, a photographer who announced that he would personally meet all 788 of his Facebook friends and then put together a documentary on those meetings and how it affected him:http://www.179pictures.com/about.html.

News of his project surfaced about a year and a half ago. Earlier this year, Mikel McLaughlin made a similar vow and has been blogging about his face-to-face meetings with Facebook friends: http://www.werefriendsright.com. Even if he used to know these “friends,” he is discovering that sitting down with them and just talking about their lives for an hour or longer instantly enables him to know that person much better than he had ever known them before.

Does this sound like an intriguing idea to you? You don’t have to go all-in to try this as an experiment. Maybe you want to take a smaller number of your Facebook friends, perhaps choosing 50 men and women whom you hardly know or have not seen in years. Then initiate direct contact with them, and see where it goes. The exercise could prove to be a valuable reminder that in today’s social environment, we often say we know a great many people but, in reality, we don’t. But we can change that, and be enriched in the process.

If you are writing your life story, this kind of exploration may be especially revealing, and fun, for you to embark on. So give it some thought. Your “friends” may be waiting for you.

– Kevin Quirk helps women and men of all ages and backgrounds tell the most important stories of their lives, including stories about friends they have known, in his role as autobiography ghostwriter and personal historian. He is the author of “Your Life Is a Book And It’s Time to Write It: An A-to-Z Guide to Help Anyone Write Their Life Story.”