Telling the Story of a Blessed Life
What many of my clients with Janice Beetle Books have in common is that they are retired and have a deep passion to preserve something that’s precious to them in the form of a book. Their story might, for instance, focus on a collection built over their lifetime.
Or they may want to record some aspect of their life—becoming a parent, losing someone important, building a career. Sometimes, people want to put down the story of their entire life for their children and grandchildren.
A client I began working with last fall falls into this latter category. Because she is modest and doesn’t want anyone besides her children to know that she has asked me to prepare her memoir, I can’t use this client’s name. I will call her Mary.
While her life has been joy-filled and rich with family and new adventures, Mary has also faced challenges—many of them health-related. She has approached each new problem with humor, grace, spirit, and faith.
Mary’s children know their mother is strong and stoic, and they have learned well from her to be resilient and grateful. But they want the generations to come to hear from Mary directly, so they can experience her and learn from her too.
I am thrilled to be telling the story of Mary’s life.
The early phase of the process has revolved around interviewing Mary about her life and processing documentation made available to me—everything from personal notes to medical records to newspaper clippings.
I am enjoying my one-on-one time with Mary the absolute most. An octogenarian, she has the brightest, warmest disposition, and we have in common that we like to mock ourselves. Mary and I both enjoy cracking ourselves up.
At least once in every interview, Mary says something that gets her laughing so hard she can’t speak for a few minutes. This, of course, gets me going.
Last month, I had a final interview with Mary. Now, I need to review everything I’ve gathered to organize it and place it in a chronology. I also need to evaluate what I still don’t know; what I still need. And then I will interview Mary’s children to hear their stories and recollections of their mother.
Then, finally, I will start writing.
Except for the fact that this project takes time, you can’t really call it work. It is so enjoyable—so delightful to sit with Mary, laugh with her. My respect for her, and the connection I am making with her, will make the process of writing about her enjoyable, and it will be fueled by my own passion to do well by Mary and her family.
My relationship with Mary is one I know I will continue after her project is through.
She’s the kind of person I’ll want to keep visiting so that I can smile and laugh with her!