PASSAGES OF LIFE
I'll ghostwrite your memoir.
"After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
― Philip Pullman, English novelist.
PRESERVE YOUR LIFE STORY
We indulge our love of story all the time, devouring novels and TV shows and movies. Even the shortest social media updates—“I was here”; “This is what we ate”—presuppose a larger, fuller life narrative. But most of the time, that larger narrative—the story of your life—exists only in your head. It never gets written down. When you pass away, your story is likely to be forgotten within a generation and a half, if indeed anyone ever really knew it.
Our stories make us who we are. We seldom tell our own story in full, except perhaps to a close friend of long standing, or a psychoanalyst or spiritual adviser, or when we have just fallen in love and are rushing to tell the truth to one another, to present ourselves in full to the one person in the world who understands us best. But telling one’s story, looking back and looking inward, doesn’t have to be confined to the relatively rare circumstances of new-found love or lifelong friendship.
We are made of stories. This is not necessarily a superpower; it might be a weakness, because a story always needs a listener (or a reader). We need to tell our story to someone, even if that someone has not yet been born or isn’t old enough to understand.
When you tell your story to your personal historian, you don’t just get a listener. You get a writer who preserves your life story in a book.
HOW IT WORKS
In one or more recorded interviews, I listen deeply to your story.
Preserving your voice and your perspective, I write your story, giving you the final say about any changes.
With my help, you choose the photographs, layout, and formatting, and book cover to bring your story into print.
When the book of your life story has the look you want, we're ready to publish! Choose the number of copies you would like, from a handful to a hundred.
This spring, at age fifty-seven, I was approaching the cusp of old age with the literary promise of my youth still unfulfilled. That unfulfillment itself seemed like a form of youth, like youth’s loyal ghost: it whispered to me that the best was still to come. I was so in the habit of living for the future that I didn’t notice I was growing old.
"Life makes its old men from adolescents who last a long time."—Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time.
"I wasted time, and now doth time waste me."—William Shakespeare, Richard II.
Then the pandemic happened. Overnight, many of us suddenly grew old, if by “old” one means “feeling the possible nearness of the end.”
I suddenly found myself having thoughts and feelings usually attributed to older people. I would look at treasured belongings—for example, a saddle-stapled chapbook of American writer John Crowley’s novella "An Earthly Mother Sits and Sings”—I would look at such objects and feel sad to think that they might soon be thrown away. Without me to vouch for and explain them, my things would be mistaken for just that, things, dross, garbage. I was also intensely aware that I could not know when or whether the people I loved might succumb to sickness. I didn't want our stories to be lost.
Especially at the beginning of lock-down, I called my parents and sisters again and again. The subtext was always “Are you still there?” Sometimes that was enough. But more often I wanted their stories. I especially wanted stories about my grandparents, the stories my mother had told me about them. Every time she told one of those stories, every time she brought back a story she’d told before, something seemed to revolve in my head: “These people were here, and now they’re gone.” But the people who were gone still existed, or they existed once again, in stories. I wrote these stories down, and I decided to become a professional historian.
Credentials. By profession, I’m a writer and an editor. I have an MFA in creative writing from Brown University and a PhD in English from Brandeis. Read my CV.
GET IN TOUCH
Tell me about the book you want to write.