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Dawno
02-18-2006, 12:37 AM
My great grandmother hand wrote a very abbreviated story of her life and I've recently transcribed it. It comes to about 20 pages and that's with double spaces and creative margins :) I was thinking of going to lulu or cafe press to make up a little bound version for the family but then I thought, I could add more facts about the history in the places where she lived and some cultural details, too.

Is this inappropriate? Does it turn my great grandmother's story into something else? I'm very interested in your opinions.

Dawno
02-18-2006, 09:31 AM
*crickets*

;)

Chacounne
02-18-2006, 11:29 AM
Dawno,

I think that's a wonderful idea, and a huge gift for future generations in your family and researchers into social history in the decades and millenia to come. I would ensure that you make clear those parts which are hers, and those parts which are yours, just for future clarity's sake.

My tuppence,
Chac

Dawno
02-18-2006, 11:35 AM
Since I plan to have this printed at Lulu or somewhere similar, I'll be responsible for creating that clarity, Chac (great suggestion, too). That said, I should research how someone else might have done that - I wonder if anyone here knows of a similar memoir/history that I could look at to see how they did it...I primarily read genre with the occasional foray into mainstream and literary fiction so I'm not up on memoirs.

Chacounne
02-18-2006, 01:00 PM
Oh, and for the future historians who read the book, please don't excerpt, and please do document and footnote anything that you add. Speaking as a researcher, not being able to find the sources for information in non-fiction books or articles in the biggest pain in my job.

A couple of historical diaries and books of letters you might want to check out :
The Diaries of Lady Anne Clifford
The Paston Letters
The Lisle Letters
Although these are probably more academic than you are thinking of, they might be of some use for ideas

A couple of more tuppence,
Chac

Hannah
02-18-2006, 06:11 PM
I think it depends on what kind of “memoir” you are referring to. Is it that you want to do a biography, autobiography, history book, or a memoir?

I question the “adding to” your grandmother’s words. You can draw out the descriptions further, but you can’t provide insight or reflection on what was going through her mind at the time—even if you were sitting right next to her.

Perhaps if you remembered some details of those events, you can write a memoir from your perspective about your grandmother, or simply turn it into fiction. I can’t imagine stretching it into a book length without her feedback, and maintaining the integrity of a [non-fiction] memoir; this approach might get you an additional 20 pages at best. But then again, who knows. :Shrug:

Proceed with caution. :)

Sarita
02-18-2006, 07:20 PM
Hannah's suggestion of turning it into fiction struck a chord with me. I've been playing with the idea of writing my Gram's story, a very interesting one, but the biggest concern was truth and her feelings. She's been dead for 15 years and I'd love to tell her story. I think I'll end up doing it in fiction just so as not to step on any toes and give myself a bit more room.

Hannah
02-18-2006, 07:41 PM
Hannah's suggestion of turning it into fiction struck a chord with me. I've been playing with the idea of writing my Gram's story, a very interesting one, but the biggest concern was truth and her feelings. She's been dead for 15 years and I'd love to tell her story. I think I'll end up doing it in fiction just so as not to step on any toes and give myself a bit more room.


Perhaps it’s because of my journalism background that I’m so defensive of truth and facts. I only read non-fiction and did not read James Frey’s book, A Million Little Pieces because it was fictionalized. I would have jumped on it if it had been ALL true. And here’s why. In fiction, anyone came make their lives as dramatic as they can. With non-fiction, you’re bound by truth, or in the case of memoir, your memory, which can be shotty for some, but not too far off.

Others may have a different opinion on the matter. :)



I just wanted to add something else.

For instance, there may be a scene in your grandmother’s story where she’s sitting in the park on a warm sunny day. Joggers are strolling by, children riding their bicycles, and butterflies roaming between the trees, and bushes.

Let’s just say, even if you were sitting right beside her and you interpreted her enjoying the giggles from the children riding by, but she would interpret it as, everything going on around her and she could only see the enchanted wings of the butterflies.

There you would have two interpretations of the same scenario, but the fact that she isolated everything out, and could only see the butterflies tell a lot about her personality, to me. That's what makes a memoir what it is, her memories. :)

Dawno
02-18-2006, 10:25 PM
Thank you Chacounne, Sara and Hanna, very much. I was thinking about a direct transcription of my grandmother's words interspersed with blocks of actual historical facts of the time. For example, there was a cholera epidemic that had an impact on her early years. I'll find information about it and write a paragraph or two. Having recently spent many hours uncovering the source material for a wholly plagiarized book published by Publish America, you can bet your paycheck I'll cite the sources. I don't intend to try and extrapolate any of her feelings or fictionalize the story. If it's a 50 page booklet, that's fine, it's just for the family, so they can have a copy of it for posterity.

MacAllister
02-18-2006, 10:29 PM
Dawno, I love the idea. If you could find old photos, historical archives, news articles...all the things to set the scene for your grandmother's transcribed words.

How very cool!

Shwebb
02-18-2006, 10:42 PM
I like the idea, too, for what it's worth.

awatkins
02-19-2006, 02:55 AM
I was thinking about a direct transcription of my grandmother's words interspersed with blocks of actual historical facts of the time. For example, there was a cholera epidemic that had an impact on her early years. *snip*

Dawno, I love this idea! I wish I had thought of something like this when I had a chance. I'm sure your family will be thrilled to have this in book form.

Dawno
02-19-2006, 03:38 AM
Thanks, everyone. jdkiggins has sent me some great background stuff and I've got the family Bible Gramma kept clippings and notes in. There are tons of albums as well with my dad, so I'll get those, too.

Don't know if anyone else will find this interesting but she and her brother were separated when they were very young with two different families adopting them - one related (the brother) and one not (gramma). He tracked her down and they were reunited - when they were in their late 70s! I wish I had more of that story as well - I've got some work ahead of me.

Ritergal
03-15-2006, 05:13 PM
I was thinking about a direct transcription of my grandmother's words interspersed with blocks of actual historical facts of the time
Dawno, this is a fantastic idea. I've done exactly that with my own mother's autobiography. She wrote about her life up through her marriage before disability and death brought an end to her writing. Nobody knew she was even doing it until two years after she died.

She left piles of notes and multiple drafts. I relied on my own memory and queried remaining family members to clarify some conflicting information, and added a few contextual facts. I also added a few comments from one of her cousins about their grandparents and other historical information.

Whenever I added anything like this, I put the input in parentheses, with initials after, so readers will know where the clarifying information came from.

When (and if) I get around to writing more about her life after marriage, it will be my writing, and I will write it as family history, not autobiography.

Dawno
03-15-2006, 07:02 PM
Thank you Ritergal, I'm really honored that you made your first post on this thread, thank you for the encouraging words.

Welcome to AW and don't be a stranger. I recommend introducing yourself over in the Newbies forum and getting to know all the great people around here.

jst5150
03-15-2006, 07:39 PM
Dawno, one of my projects is similar. I'm porting a personal journal I made while deployed to Baghdad to something larger. I have photos. I have copy. However, I'm going back now (it's been about nine months) and embellishing things (like all the stuff that happened beforehand).

Hannah and I come from the same trade -- facts. And I'm a big believer in using all the facts you have. What I'm looking to do is enhance those facts with more facts and background information -- more about Baghdad, the duty and so on. Stuff I may have left out while writing the journal while plopped in the dustbin that is Iraq.

That said, similarly, you might consider beefing up portions of the story where you can find more fact -- where she's from, occupations and so on.

Neat project. Have a fun journey.

Yeshanu
04-01-2006, 07:22 AM
Don't know if anyone else will find this interesting but she and her brother were separated when they were very young with two different families adopting them - one related (the brother) and one not (gramma). He tracked her down and they were reunited - when they were in their late 70s! I wish I had more of that story as well - I've got some work ahead of me.


Not find that interesting??? How could anyone think that not interesting?

One thing you might try that's not been mentioned: Could you make your grandmother's story just one part of the book, with stories of other family elders (like her brother, if still alive) making other parts?

(And remind me to get cracking on doing that sort of thing in my family...)

Dawno
04-01-2006, 08:48 AM
That is an excellent idea, Yeshanu - I definitely need to do some digging now!