Tag Archives: writing a memoir

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 support an important mission or cause.

Kim Moretto Niemeier 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”:


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

Memoir Ghostwriter Kevin Quirk Argues That You're Never Too Young To Write Your Life Story

As a memoir ghostwriter, personal historian, and teacher of autobiographical writing classes, I often tell my students and clients of all ages, “You’re never too young to write your life story!” So naturally this recent headline caught my eye on the HLN website: “Too young to write your memoir? Not these celebs!” The story focuses on the recent release of Olympic gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas’s memoir “Grace, Gold & Glory.”  It stirred a lively online discussion, which I had to join in:


As I read the article and comments, I immediately thought of Ben Rubenstein. Ben came to me seeking support to tell his story of overcoming two major battles with cancer. His resulting memoir is “Twice: How I became a Cancer-Slaying Superman Before I Turned 21.” Try telling Ben he was too young to write about his life!

Those who would argue that you must have reached a certain arbitrary age to be “eligible” to write something about your life in a book may be confused about the difference between a memoir and an autobiography. The two terms are often used interchangeably, and for the most part the definitions really don’t matter much these days anyway. But it can help to think of a memoir as telling a “slice of life” or an account of one dramatic life experience, whereas an autobiography attempts to give voice to your entire life. I would still argue that even if you set out to write your auobiography, you should not have to pass an age test. If you want to reflect upon your life and your age happens to fall far below the senior discount line, more power to you. But with a memoir especially, age is far less important than what you have to say.

This is something I discuss in my book, “Your Life Is a Book And It’s Time To Write It: An A-to-Z Guide To Help Anyone Write Their Life Story.” I explain how in my work as memoir ghostwriter and teacher of Writing Your Life Story classes, I’ve had the privilege to assist students and clients from 19 to 94. My message is this: the time to write your life story is when that voice inside you tells you that you have something important to share, something that may reach and even inspire others.  Have you overcome an illness or disease or some other crisis? Did you achieve a dream or something greater that you could ever have imagined to be possible? Did you have an adventure that will forever change who you are and how you look at life?

Then you have the right to write about it in a memoir, or whatever you want to call your account of your life experience. You are not too young. And if you get the urge to write another memoir 30, 40, or 50 years down the road, you won’t be too old to write it!

– Kevin Quirk is a memoir ghostwriter, personal historian and teacher of Writing Your Life Story classes who assists clients of all ages in writing the most meaningful stories of their lives.

George Vaughan's Memoir "Once Told Tales" Vividly Illustrates How To Capture a Childhood in a Small Town

Did you grow up in a small town? Do you have memories that when brought fully to life can paint a colorful picture of that certain place and time?

George Vaughan sure did. He grew up in the small mill town of Fries, Virginia, on the banks of the New River. George attended one of my Autobiographical Writing classes at the University of Virginia School of Continuing and Professional Studies, and he was just bursting with stories from his small-town life experiences as a child in the 1930s and ’40s. George had been a highly accomplished professional; he served as president of two Virginia community colleges and published scores of academic-oriented books and articles. But writing personal stories about his life was an entirely different kind of animal, he observed. He was enjoying the process and was inspired to teach others what it was like to live the way he did back then. He had visions of writing a book about it all. Could he really stick with the process well enough to build an entire memoir around his childhood in Fries?

George found his answer, and he has recently released his memoir: “Once-Told Tales: A Boy’s Life on the Crooked Road, Fries, Virginia, A Mill Town.”


He gave voice to it all: camping out in the backyard in his Army surplus tent; surviving an attack of leeches by burning them off with matches; becoming a big-time “gambler” by flicking coins; killing a bird with a BB gun and deciding he would never kill again; making it through school with Cs and Ds; spending five days a week after school and all day Saturday playing basketball and ping-pong at the Y; eating dinners of fried potatoes, green onions from the garden, mustard greens and cornbread; burning his bottom while drying too close to the stove after his Saturday night bath; getting a jar of pickled peaches as a Christmas present while pondering the question: if Santa could come every Christmas, why couldn’t Jesus? He made sure to weave in a good bit of the town’s history, informing readers at the outset that Fries was pronounced “freeze” not like what you ate with your hamburger. He didn’t surgar-coat his depiction of the town and its people, including himself. He just let the stories do his talking, and in so doing left readers with a real and deep appreciation of his small-town life while beckoning us to dive into our own memories of our childhoods in towns small or large.

If you are embarking on writing your life story, and you happened to have grown up in a small town, maybe you’ve got your own once-told tales to bring to life. Perhaps, instead of seeking to write a full-fledged autobiography that covers your entire life, you too may want to consider writing a slice-of-life memoir. Would you like to tell us all about what it was like to grow up in your small town?

– Kevin Quirk, author of “Your Life Is a Book And It’s Time To Write It,” teaches classes on Writing Your Life Story and serves as a ghostwriter for memoirs and autobiographies.