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Another Way to Preserve Family Memories

Updated on July 18, 2013
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Dr. Middlebrook is a fiction/non-fiction writing coach, author (pen name Beax Rivers), virtual trainer, and former university professor.

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Cleaning out my garage, I found an old trunk that once belonged to my mother (she passed away in year 2000). Filled with many, many years of her memories, the trunk was packed with old photos, family reunion memorabilia, birthday and other special occasion cards, grade-school report cards (I'm from a family of six kids), high-school diplomas and yearbooks, old newspaper clippings featuring stories involving family and/or friends, and much more. Of course, there's no way I could possibly keep everything the trunk contained, nor do I want to.

Thankfully, there is a way I can keep things and throw them away, at the same time. I could turn many of these memories into picture books, and self-publish them. Self-publishing is not just for people who might want to become a "famous" author. It's also something that can be used simply as a way to preserve memories. It occurred to me that the memorabilia I found in that trunk could provide the material I need to create a fantastic, self-published picture book--something that might make a great family gift.

Have some vacation photos that you think might make an interesting picture book for your coffee table? Well why haven't you self-published? If you have an urge to put your family history, family vacations, family reunions, or a great family adventure on paper, or if you simply have a yearning to get your own life story published inside the pages of a book with your name on the front as author, then why not do it?

Just as the Internet has made it possible for just about every Tom, Dick, and Harry who fancies him or herself as a writer to become a "citizen journalist," these days, just anyone can also become a self-published author. And the good news is, everyone has a story to tell. Now, it may or may not be a bestseller as a book ... and you may not even want hundreds of copies made. Still, you have a story, and whether it's a picture book or your life story, you can bet someone (okay, maybe just friends and family) might want to see or to read your book.

Okay, I hear all the objections before they're even formed in your mind. "But I don't know where to begin!" "But I'm not a writer!" "What if I make grammatical or spelling errors?"

Calm down! First of all, the hard part is just getting the story down on paper. To do that, begin any place you want. The point is to get started, somewhere ... anywhere. You can always go back and make changes later.

Okay. So you might start, for example, with where and when you were born. You could give this simple section a simple title such as, "Where and When I Was Born." Difficult, huh? Then, just go on and tell us where and when you were born. Anything you that you think is either interesting or important about your topic, write it down. After that, you might want to talk about where you grew up, and about your family--in general. Were you an only child? If so, what was it like growing up as an only child? Did you have siblings? If so, how many, how close in age? What was it like growing up with sisters, brothers, or both?

Now, that you've gotten over the fear of getting started, take a look at what you've written, and then go back over it. With the initial fear in the past, it's time to start thinking about a theme. What is it about your life, or the life of a loved one, that you think might be a good theme or central idea for your book? Did you or a loved one do something heroic? Was there something especially unique or interesting about an ancestor of yours? Did you have a pet that rescued a family from a blazing inferno? Or an uncle who did the same thing? What about a grandmother who won 57 blue ribbons at the county fair for her delicious apple pie?

You get the idea. Once you have a central idea for your story, as you prepare your narrative (the telling of the story), you will lead us to the central idea by building a clear and interesting path to it. In my next segment of this Hub, I will ask questions you can use to begin your process of putting your story down on paper. See you next time, and until then, be sure to check out the video about a good place to begin ... and think good thoughts!

© 2012 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD

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    • drmiddlebrook profile image
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      Sallie B Middlebrook PhD 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      You will have that courage one day, I'm sure. There's something inside that will let you know when it's time to tell your story; follow your instincts. You'll know. And thanks for the comment.

    • ananceleste profile image

      Anan Celeste 5 years ago from California

      Indeed we all have a story to tell. I hope one day I have the courage to tell mine. Voted up!