People put in an enormous amount of genealogical research to recover paltry details about their ancestors such as that a great grandfather was a grocer in Wigan. Only rarely does anything come out of this effort that tells us the details of our ancestors’ history, their emotions, relationships and the texture and feel of their lives. This is because only occasionally do we come across a diary, letter or memoir. How much better it would have been if they had left us with an autobiography.
I’ve had an interesting enough life and found myself at odd moments drinking with a Flemish nazi tropical fish dealer and commiserating with an Arab secret policeman over the death of his son, not to mention writing novels and practicing as a lawyer. As I approached sixty, I thought I’d set about writing up this stuff for the benefit of my family: I thought I would send a message to the children. It was something I’d recommended to others for years.
Writing isn’t easy, and it’s made more difficult both technically and psychologically when we find ourselves faced with a large project such as an autobiography. Having a lot of experience of writing I had some practical ideas about how to deal with these problems, and I came up with the notion of integrating a series of lessons – a Teach Yourself How To Write Autobiography, if you like – into my own story, which would serve as a set of examples
Those who’ve read the result have loved it, whether or not they know me, and several have found the lessons useful in writing their own autobiography.
If you would like to read a sample of A Message to the Children – A Guide To Writing Your Autobiography, click here
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