“There is no greater power on this earth, than story”. Libba Bray.
Our stories, the stories of our ordinary old lives, are the most important ones to write down. For we all have someone who loves us, who wants to hold on to our stories, and in doing so holds on to us.
A picture paints a thousand words, but isn’t better to have the words themselves? Writing a life story is important to record the details for posterity. A life story can cover a whole life, from great, great grandparents right through to your own grandchildren. It unveils what it was like to live during a certain period, what it was like to live through a war, what school looked like, what life was like growing up in a different country, the social scene, fashions worn, food cooked and how families interacted. Or, it can be a section of your life – a period of growth, an important work history, a record purely of the family, or a wonderful love story.
Life stories are often written for the purposes ensure family histories are not lost forever. They can record a minutiae detail, such as dates and places of birth of family members, friends names, neighbours, homes, marriages and deaths – and all the emotions behind each detail recalled. How many times have you thought, ‘I must write nan’s story down before it’s too late’? Recording a loved one’s life story brings out wonderful details of life as a child in a different era, the morality of the time, how the suburb of their youth has changed over the years, and how she viewed relationships, with her husband, children, brothers, sisters, parents and grandparents. These details disappear without a record of them, and they’re so important in the shaping of who we are and the generations to come.
Writing a life story can also be used to give a person a voice. Is there a part of your life you want to illuminate? Something which burns within you, which needs to be put into the world in a permanent way? Do you have a deep knowledge, or a passion for a cause which has been woven through your life? It must be written, in the Life Story form, so it is recorded, documented for those with the same interest, for history or, once again, for posterity.
Life Stories are also written for the purpose of healing oneself, and for helping others. From struggle, we grow. Writing about a challenging period in your life can be cathartic and healing – putting the words onto the page takes them out of your heart and mind. Stories of challenging times and lessons learned are of so much benefit to others who may find themselves in a similar situation, helping them feel as if they are not alone, and showing them a way forward. These stories also act as a lesson before the fact, how one may avoid the challenge you have experienced. This is vitally important Life Story writing.