July 24, 2015

Everyone Should Write Their Memoir

By Victor Rook

It was only seven years ago when I began writing books. I was forty-five years old and my mother had just passed away. I started with a simple, four-page story called, "My Mother, My Sister, and Their Dogs." It detailed, jokingly, how every time I'd come to visit, they'd spend two minutes with me and the rest of the visit mollycoddling their dogs. "Do you have to go out?" "Make that funny sound. A-woo-woo-woo. A woo-woo-woo." I wrote it with no intention of writing a full book.

Then little moments in my life crept into mind: the day my mother took us to Tastee Freez three times, how I fixated on the Swivel Sweeper box in CVS one afternoon, and all the jobs I'd had in my life. I turned each of those moments into little short stories. Some as short as two book pages. Most, no more than four. After two years, I had fifty-one anecdotes, and so I put them all together in my first book, Musings of a Dysfunctional Life.

Like many writers who take to the task to share their experiences in life, I just needed to get it all out. It was therapeutic. And I wanted all my trials and tribulations written down before they slipped from my head. I knew that someday I'd want to look back at them. Recently I pulled that book out and reread a few. It was amazing. And I'm so glad I did it. And my friends, family, and strangers have connected with it as well.

There seems to be this belief that you must be famous or have accomplished something grand in the public eye to write a memoir. I remember that after I finished Musings, I told a local bartender about it. She said, "You've written a memoir because you've done what?" I was taken aback and hurt by her lack of enthusiasm, but I understood where she was coming from. Who am I to write about my life and myself? Well, I'm here to tell you that you should do it because your life experiences are important. They're important because you may have triumphed over pain or overcome obstacles that will help others. For me it was an alcoholic father, being lonely, gay, and dealing with a lot of not so nice people in my life. Plus you can also make people laugh. You don't have to be famous to do that. In fact, I've read several autobiographies from public figures. Outside of their claims to fame, many have led boring, uneventful lives.

So start simple. Think of a moment in your life: first bicycle, first bully, first kiss, etc. And write down the memory as if you were telling a friend. Detail how you felt at the time. It doesn't have to be long. You'll know you're done when you've exhausted all you can say about it. Then, move on to another memory. Let it flow from your head to paper. This is not the time to hold back. People like sincerity. Write one a week and you'll have a book to share in a year. How cool is that?

Oh, and that bartender–I'm on my fourth book and she's still serving beers seven years later. So, yes, I have accomplished something.

Victor Rook is a degreed Mechanical Engineer turned film producer and author. You may have seen my nature documentary "Beyond the Garden Gate" on PBS. It won two Telly Awards. Since then I have produced several documentaries and written several books. All are available on Amazon. My first book is "Musings of a Dysfunctional Life." It's a memoir that includes fifty-one short anecdotes and musings on virtually all subjects: love, sex, ghosts, religion, shopping, aging, name it. My second novel is "In Search of Good Times." It's about a troubled man who believes that the fictional sitcom families from "All in the Family" and "Good Times" are real, and sets off on a road trip to find them. Lots of '70s nostalgia and interesting characters. My most recent book is a collection of satirical horror stories entitled "People Who Need To Die." The year is 2021 and the World Order Alliance allows "selective" homicides to remove thirty percent of the population. Bad Drivers, Distracted Cell Phone Users, Spammers, Internet Trolls, Horrible Bosses, Black Friday Shoppers and more are some of the targets. Victor’s website is here.

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