Tag Archives: Life-Story Ghostwriter

Visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Reminds Life Story Ghostwriter How Our Favorite Music Can Shed Light on Who We Are and How We've Lived

So there I was in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, bouncing foot loose  between videos of a Grateful Dead concert, a montage of live Rolling Stones shows, and an exploration into the makings of all the Beatles albums. I watched the entire movie that honors the Rock Hall inductees.  Before I left, I spent a few minutes (Okay, maybe it was an hour and a half) selecting albums and songs at one of the personal, headphones-listening jukebox stations. I’m sure I baffled the teenager beside me when I sang along to every word of such cuts as “Dangling Conversation” and “April Comes She Will” by Simon & Garfunkel and “Songs to Aging Children” and “A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell.

Excuse me, but my own adolesence and young adulthood were talking to me. I had to listen, and talk back.

In my work helping ordinary people write their life stories in a memoir or autobiography, I suggest that they consider devoting some time and attention remembering back to the music that has shaped their lives. There are memories and meanings in there, I tell them. Go find them.

So that’s what I did indoors for six hours instead of grazing on a sunny afternoon, as the Kinks once sang. I sang along to some memories. I remember inheriting dozens of rock albums from my older brothers and sisters: the Beatles, the Stones, the Moody Blues, Judy Collins, Jefferson Airplane. They had gone before me and knew how the music of “now” could stir your soul or pull you through, and they were generous enough to pass them along to me at a time of need and receptivity to the fun and meaning of rock.

So I blasted those albums in my bedroom, and then discovered WBCN in Boston back when the term “alternative rock FM” meant something. I had discovered a lifeline. I had found an ally for troubling questions, disturbing feelings, and a passionate hope for tomorrow. With its messages of definance, vulnerability, love, mystery, and independence, the rock music of my choice helped usher me across the threshold into a tenuous adulthood.

At the Rock Hall, I felt a deeper appreciation for this loud and vibrant gift. Rock music came of age just when I was trying to. We made it together. Though I grew up in the 60s, I didn’t do drugs. It was rock that took me on a wild ride into other dimensions of thought, feeling, experience, and connection to the sense of community for which I yearned. It comforted and reassured me, sure, but it also elevated me, as Bruce Springsteen often explains today, into an elevated place of living and experiencing.

Once I was old enough to get out to see rock and roll live, it also established an arena for vivid memories. I remember watching Jethro Tull in a Hampton, New Hampshire inside venue with no seats while watching cops violently hold off kids trying to crash the gate to get inside. I remember watching the Kinks perform their Tommy-like rock opera, Preservation, in Boston’s Music Hall, where I also got tickets to back-to-back shows for Neil Young in his solo days. At that same venue, I remember watching the curtain come up to Bob Dylan in a Harvard T-shirt and Joan Baez in a Boston University T-shirt as they sang “Blowin’ in the Wind” together.  I remember watching Poco live at Boston Garden during one of those nights of teen mischief that could have cost me dearly but fortunately didn’t.

I let go of those albums, allowing my mother decades ago to sell them at her yard sale where the lucky purchaser praised my taste in music. They had served their purpose for me, and looking back today I can see how the rock groups and individual songs framed the changing states of my relationships with my parents, my distant older brother, my best friend in high school, and my first girl friend who became my first wife. At the Rock Hall, I had a bunch of those moments when one song was triggering what could have been pages of writing about my life story. You’ve had those too, right? Preserve those memories about your music; they may be all that’s left for you.

I had my ticket stubs for awhile. Wish I had kept them, especially when I paused at the exhibits of concert posters beckoning you to come see the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and more…for $5.50.  Even with an adjustment for the passing of 40-plus years and inflation and all that, wouldn’t it be nice to see a ticket price like that pop up for one of Bruce Springsteen’s stadium shows these days? But as Mick would say, you can’t always get what you want.

Those rock-inspired memories are still reverberating in my mind. I’m thankful to have them. And I can’t wait for the next opportunity to invite one of my life story ghostwriting clients to “Tell me about the music you loved when you were young….”

– Kevin Quirk, who still wonders if John Lennon was trying to make us believe that “I buried Paul,” helps women and men of all ages write the most meaningful stories of their lives. He is the author of “Life Is a Book And It’s Time To Write It: An A-to-Z Guide to Help Anyone Write Their Life Story.”

Life Story Ghostwriter and Teacher Invites Us to Remember Back to When We Would Shout, "School's Out for Summer!"

Do you have a child or grandchild who is about to end the school year and launch summer vacation? Can you hear them shouting something like “School’s Out for Summer”? Have you listened to them enthusiastically list all those things they get to do now that summer vacation is beginning – and all those things they won’t have to do?

If you do, chances are that their excitement will bring you back to one of your favorite “school’s out” memories. It almost doesn’t matter what we actually did with our summer vacation, as long as we were able to experience and savor the anticipation of everything we would do. Special trips. Swimming every day. Sleeping late. Reading what we wanted instead of what we were told to read. Staying up extra late. Visiting special family and friends in far-off places. Picnics, fireworks, and late-night movies. Just kicking back and doing nothing.

So thank your young one for rekindling those memories, and if you are already engaged in or planning to write your life story, count this as a particularly fun entry. Just start with this simple Story Spark:

“When school let out for summer, I was always ready to…”

Write for 10 minutes about this, without planning your response. Relive that heightened sense of what was to come. Honor the importance of that feeling for you now, today, as you contrast it to the way you approach your life in summer, winter, spring, and fall. Is there something you can learn from putting yourself in the shoes of those school-bustin’-out kids?

As a life story ghostwriter and teacher, I trust that remembering moments like these will enliven your memoir or autobiography. So why not dive into one of those stories right now, while it’s fresh in your mind. After all, before you know it, school will be starting up again. Don’t let the summer pass you by!

– Kevin Quirk, author of “Life Is a Book And It’s Time To Write It: An A-to-Z Guide To Help Anyone Write Their Life Story.” A personal historian and ghostwriter of memoirs and autobiographies, he has been helping people tell their life stories for 15 years.

Writing about Our Pivotal Choices from Our Life Story Can Inspire Others, Like the $3.4 mIllion Lottery Winner Who Kept His Janitor Job and Gave Back to His Community

As a life story ghostwriter and teacher of Writing Your Life Story classes, I often advise my clients and students to tell me the stories behind their most important life choices. Those choices, I remind them, can inspire others to make their own pivotal and often difficult choices – choices that sometimes call for them to veer off the expected, ordinary path to step onto the sacred ground of who they really are. In glancing through news stories on the Internet the other day, I came across the account of one life choice that took my breath away.

Tyrone Curry was a school custodian and track coach in the Seattle area five years ago when he won $3.4 million in the lottery. Like most folks who play the lottery regularly, he had been joking with friends and family for years about the big plans he had “when” he won it big. Perhaps you carry your own fantasies about what you would do if you won millions in the lottery: world travel, a new home, early retirement, etc. But as soon as he actually held that check with so many zeroes on it that his wife couldn’t understand the amount, he began making different plans, mapping out a pivotal life choice. Here’s a link that explains the whole story behind “The Real Jackpot”:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2015553417_lotteryguy09.html

I’ll share the highlights about Mr. Curry’s life choice after winning $3.4 million in the lottery: First, he decided he would keep his job and vowed to keep living off the income from it. He also held onto his other positions as a seating host at Safeco Field, Seattle’s major league baseball stadium, and his role as an usher at a performing arts center. He still lives in the same modest home, though he did put in a new driveway. He gave some money to members of his extended family who really needed it. And he recently donated $40,000 to the high school where he works to help enable the construction of a new track because, with school budgets what they are these days, the compelling need for an upgraded modern surface was not being met. So Tyrone Curry decided to give something back.

As you might guess, Tyrone Curry was living by values taught to him early on. In his case, it was his mother who raised Tyrone and his eight siblings as a single mom in a home where a dinner on some nights might be biscuits and gravy.

“She taught us to work for what we got and to work with what we got,” he explained.

Do you know of any young people who could benefit from that message these days? I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Curry share more about his experience on NPR’s The Story:

http://thestory.org/archive

I was struck by his humility, his determination after becoming a millionaire to remain the same Joe Citizen, to hang out with the same friends, and to keep his feet firmly on the ground except when, even as a 60-year-old, he couldn’t resist trying a few triple jumps when they recently got that new track installed.

He’s maintained one more habit from his pre-lotto winning days: he still plays the lottery. Again, he’s making big plans for when he wins another jackpot. His school also badly needs a tennis court, you see, so…

– Kevin Quirk, life story and memoir ghostwriter and 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”

In Writing Your Life Story, Ask This Question: If You Could Go Back and Relive One Moment from Childhood, What Would It Be?

My 9 year old son Aibek and I had just come away from the dazzling laser, light, and water show “Fantasma” as part of the Hollywood Studios theme park at Disneyworld. It was well after dark, we had not even had dinner, and, due to air travel complications the night before, we had been up since 5 a.m. But I knew he was not ready to call it a night. Neither was I.

 “Okay, we really should be getting back to the hotel and going to bed now,” I began, seeing if he would believe me but doubting he would. “But if we could go back to any of the rides we have been on today before it closes, what would it would be?” 

“Star Tours!” he exclaimed.

“Well then, let’s do it!” I said. “Who cares about the time?”

“Really?!” he asked. “Awesome.”

So, with his new, custom-made light saber in hand, we rushed toward the Star Tours exhibit, smiled when we noticed it had only a 15-minute wait, and took our place in line. As CP3O narrated us through our second harrowing space journey, Aibek took special delight in seeing that the ride was a little different from our first go-round five hours earlier. At 10:30 p.m., as he munched on his dinner of a personal pizza and carrot sticks, he flashed his thoughtful look.

“Dad,” he said, “I want to come back and do this again next year. And then the year after that. Then I want to get a job at Disneyworld so I can go on Star Tours all the time.”

 Well, of course he did. He had just experienced one of those moments from childhood that he yearned to relive, to recapture, to hold onto and squeeze as tight as he had ever held his Honey Bear. And whether we ever actually come back to Disneyworld or not (I was amazed how many people we met who have come several times!), I hoped that he would never lose that feeling, that desire. We all need that sense of wanting, yearning to go back and relive something special and meaningful. And from my experience as ghostwriter of life story books and teacher of Writing Your Life Story classes, I believe we’ve all had it.

If you are writing your life story, or expect to begin telling the stories of your life sometime soon, this is something I invite you to consider. Ask yourself this question:

If you could go back and relive one moment from your childhood, what would it be?

Did you have one or more of those peak, off-the-charts experiences that made you say “I’ve got to do this again?” Maybe you did get to go back and repeat the same or similar experience. But even if you didn’t, you have the opportunity now, through writing your life story, to feel that sense of excitement, joy, and wonder again. You can go back in your mind’s eye and recreate the event that stirred something magical in you, that made you want to “go on the ride” again. And again.

 Do you know what that moment is right now? Do you have more than one special experience in mind? Quick, write them down. Tell the story. Flesh out the details. Feel the sensations. Go to warp speed and take it as fast and as far as it will go. The day, or the night, is still young.

– Kevin Quirk, Personal Historian, memoir ghostwriter and 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” (www.yourlifeisabook.com).