Writing A Memoir by Diane S. Craver

Author of The Christmas of 1957

We all have a story we want to tell. Maybe we have lost a parent or a loved one and realize we can’t wait any longer to tell our family story. At age fifty-one, my father had been dead for over twenty years and my mother’s health was poor. I realized I needed to write a memoir soon about my father so that my mother could read it before she died.

If you’re thinking about writing a story for your family, you might want a published book to give to people instead of just handing out typed copies. Because of my story’s focus, I wanted a published book that would be perfect for family and at the same time could be sold to others. I knew if I used a print-on-demand company that my book would be published quickly. After researching several POD companies, Booklocker.com was the most impressive one.

To begin your memoir, start jotting down your memories in a notebook. Give yourself plenty of time to think about your past. At first, I brainstormed about my father since I planned on the book to be centered on his “disability.” I also listed old playmates, neighbors, siblings, and my mother. Don’t forget yourself and what you were like at a younger age.

Go through old photo albums and scrapbooks to jog your memory. Maybe you have a cherished item from a parent that will stimulate you into remembering more. I have a tie of my father’s and I remembered him wearing it during the time period I decided to use for my book. Maybe you have a piece of jewelry of your mother’s that has a special meaning.

Because I wanted to give my father the ending he deserved and didn’t get, I fictionalized a few details. The following is what a former editor, Valerie Susan Hayward, said about my book: “It really captures a time and place, a nostalgia for a more innocent time. The writing has the immediacy and emotional honesty of memoir –even though this work is fictionalized. Uplifting and positive. Real charm and warmth.”

Your memoir should have a focus, and I used illiteracy in mine of a person who didn’t fit the stereotype of an illiterate person. Society in general tends to think of poverty stricken minorities or dyslexic sufferers as the only adults who haven’t learned how to read. I saw my father copy words from my second-grade reader, and I realized something was terribly wrong. This image of my father’s secret was burned into my mind forever so my book’s first sentences are: It was 1957 when I saw something that I wasn’t meant to see. I have never forgotten this night because it had such an impact on me.

I’m thankful that my manuscript was accepted because many neat things have happened to me as a result. An eighth grade teacher chose The Christmas of 1957 for his students to read each year during the holiday season. I’ve enjoyed visiting English classes to talk about writing. And, the editor of the Midwest Book Review gave my book 5 stars.

But my greatest reward comes from accomplishing my dream of having a book about my father published. I hope your journey to the past will be as rewarding as mine has been. In sharing your story, you will be opening yourself up to a wonderful experience. In doing so, you will enrich many lives by deepening family bonds, and perhaps will touch others with your memoir.

Diane S. Craver, a contributor to the Cincinnati Down syndrome newsletter and contributor of non-fiction magazine articles, resides in Ohio and enjoys her life with her husband and six children. The Romance Rag, an online magazine, will publish Diane’s short story, “Second Thoughts” in an upcoming issue. Diane is currently writing a mainstream novel. Reading has always been a pleasure in Diane’s life, and she has always emphasized reading in her children’s lives.

The Christmas of 1957 inspires us to realize that obstacles can be overcome at any age. To learn more about Diane and her writing, visit her website at: https://www.dianecraver.com

Another one of Diane’s books, How To Run A Profitable Preschool Without The Hassle, is available as an ebook at: https://www.booklocker.com/books/1128.html