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Author Topic: MIL's Memoir  (Read 14744 times)

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Re: MIL's Memoir
« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2013, 12:17:29 PM »
One of my most treasured memories I had growing up was a book of poems that my great-grandmother had written and self published. This was put out in the late 80s or early 90s, but she had made sure that each family unit had several (for future generations). There were plenty of grammar and spelling errors in with the poetry and stories behind them, but nobody would think of correcting them because that's how Grandma M was. I have very few memories of Grandma M in person, she died when I was still fairly young, but those books introduced me to the person she was and how she grew up, including not having grammar and punctuation that was up to date.

I'd say for the purpose of clarity (where parts are repeated several times) it would be okay to edit one telling of the story out, but leave everything else in, mistakes and all. It's much more personable that way, and you never know how many future children would really love reading those mistakes and connecting with your mother in law.


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Re: MIL's Memoir
« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2013, 01:12:32 PM »
Personally I wouldn't change a thing.


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Re: MIL's Memoir
« Reply #17 on: May 21, 2013, 01:28:37 PM »
I agree with correcting typos, but nothing more.

What a beautiful thing to share!


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Re: MIL's Memoir
« Reply #18 on: May 21, 2013, 01:30:41 PM »
Thanks,, everyone.

You've given us plenty of good ideas. 

I'd like to share with you all MIL's memory of a photograph taken of her shortly before her High School graduation and her journey to the USA. 

'On that rock at the Western Mountain I was experiencing a magic moment of my own.  The world was all my own.  I was thinking of the Universe; looking at the sky; breathing the clean air; feeling the wind blowing my hair;and dreaming of what my future could be'.

Oh, wow. Her writing is so poetic. I'm sure your family will always treasure these stories.


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Re: MIL's Memoir
« Reply #19 on: May 21, 2013, 01:33:42 PM »
i wanted to add: I have someplace a little photo album with photos of my late grandma baking her famous yeast cake. my cousin took the pictures and wrote down the recipe, all "a pinch of this", "as much flour as it takes", and "little pats of butter"... I love that booklet!

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Re: MIL's Memoir
« Reply #20 on: May 21, 2013, 01:43:36 PM »
When my Mom was dying, I spent a lot of time in her hospital room, going over a lot of the family recipes and making notes.  After she died, I wrote them up into a cookbook, complete with stories and little quotes, a la Erma Bombeck.  We had a lot of them printed and sold them to raise money for a charitable cause of my Mom's, as well as giving a lot of them away to family and friends.

One of the nurses my Mom had worked with bought one of the books.  I ran into her about 6 months later and asked if she'd made anything out of it.  'No,' she replied, 'but I've read it four times.'

That meant a lot to me and I think your MIL will be tickled for everyone to read her musings.
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Re: MIL's Memoir
« Reply #21 on: May 21, 2013, 01:47:42 PM »
My grandfather died recently.  He used to tell me lots of funny stories about my dad when they were all growing up on the farm.  I always wished I had written them down or got him to write them down, but I could never remember the details.  And then he left us :(

I really wish I had had something like this from him.  I agree with the others, correct obvious spelling mistakes but leave everything else at it is.  You will treasure it forever.


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Re: MIL's Memoir
« Reply #22 on: May 21, 2013, 02:48:24 PM »
I agree with the others, correct spelling mistakes and obvious typos/grammatical mistakes and leave the rest alone.  And if you can, include as many photos as possible.  That would make it a real, wonderful keepsake.

I used to participate in a writing forum, and we had two kinds of editors.  There was one sort of personal editor who would help you work with your story in the early stages.  They would point out things like repetition, poor grammar, bad characterization, contradictions in the plot, deux ex machina, the works.  They'd really work with you on getting your story to where it needed to be.  Not everybody used one of these personal editors.  Then, when you were ready to submit your work to the forum, you were *required* to send it to a general editor.  The general editor *only* edited for spelling mistakes, grammatical mistakes, and typos.  Anything else, even if they noticed it, they were to leave alone.  This made sure that the finished works on the forum were at least readable, but it allowed people to have their own voices and not feel like their story was being taken over by somebody else.

In this case, I think you basically need to be the general editor.  You're fixing up only those things that really stand out and are pretty much objective rules of writing.  You aren't rearranging the story, editing out parts that are repetitious, shortening stories that are too long, adding detail to a story that lacks it, or anything like that.  You're just making it readable, but leaving the original voice intact.  I think that's the goal that you want to aim for.  Plus pictures.  :)
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Re: MIL's Memoir
« Reply #23 on: May 21, 2013, 02:53:18 PM »
I agree with all the posters who say to correct the spelling and grammar but leave the rest in her voice.

My great grandad wrote a memoir of his childhood that my mum has typed up for people.  I have a copy and my dad has the original which was written in a school notebook.  It makes fascinating reading, all about life in the East End of London in the late 1800's!


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Re: MIL's Memoir
« Reply #24 on: May 21, 2013, 03:32:36 PM »
Here's what I'd do:

Keep her own words, but organize the stories fairly chronologically. Correct major mis-uses, but don't eliminate her own voice.

Add photographs (if they're scanned at 300dpi or higher, you'll get great photo reproduction in the print version). Add a family tree, and a list of people mentioned (with a note on who/how they're related.) Add a few maps.

You may find it becomes larger than a small booklet, but you can still have them printed very economically! You could even look at doing special hard-bound books through a service like LULU, where individuals can buy their own print-on-demand copy.

I'm doing something similar with my husband's grandmother's poetry. It's so much fun!


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Re: MIL's Memoir
« Reply #25 on: May 22, 2013, 06:29:01 AM »
Memoirs are great! Both my grandmother and great-aunt wrote memoirs when they were in their seventies, and I'm so glad we have their stories recorded.

But I will add a word of warning.

My grandmother's memoirs were well structured. Her recollections were set out in a logical order. Her prose wasn't perfect, but it flowed well.

By contrast, my great-aunt's memoirs were scattered and rambling, almost to the point of incoherence. Her stories jumped around. Her writing style was very convoluted. (Note, my great aunt had no issues with senility when she wrote her memoirs; she is simply not a very good writer).

As a result, guess whose memoirs get read more often, and discussed the most, in my family?

I think it would have been a kindness if someone had sat down with my great-aunt, and encouraged her to structure her memoirs a bit better, and write in a plainer style. Because she had some great and funny stories. But sadly, because they were poorly written, the impact was lost. If I were you, I'd consider doing the same thing for your MIL. Offer her your services. Tell her you love her memoirs, and that you'd love to sit down with her to "tidy things up" and make sure her little book is able to clearly reach out to future generations.


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Re: MIL's Memoir
« Reply #26 on: May 22, 2013, 09:24:26 AM »
Thanks to everyone for the wonderful input. 

While she was writing this, MIL was involved in a memoir workshop so the basic story is well-structured and coherent.  Aside from obvious typos, the only thing that we need to do is reformat  the text.

We have no photographs from the period but there's a distant cousin on the west coast who has taken on the job of family historian.  I'm sure he'll send us photos and additional information if we ask. 

There are later stories that are independent.  They're a little rougher in style but can be added as addenda to the main memoir with minimal changes.  Unfortunately, MIL is not the best of typists. 


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Re: MIL's Memoir
« Reply #27 on: May 22, 2013, 12:40:59 PM »
One of my cousins sat down with my now late grandmother and asked her to tell Cousin about her life while Cousin recorded it.  Cousin later wrote it all out in a book format and it's one of my dearest treasures.   My mom is the youngest of many and I always saw my grandma as a very prim and proper woman.  I was surprised at some of the stories, LOL.  Turns out she had a few adventures.


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Re: MIL's Memoir
« Reply #28 on: May 22, 2013, 12:59:15 PM »
I would remove the obvious typos but otherwise leave it intact to best preserve your MIL's voice. I love the PP's suggestion of adding in a few family pictures and a family tree if you have time, but anything would be wonderfully treasured!

A few years back, after reading "The Greatest Generation", my dad did interviews with the folks from that generation in our family. (People like my grandparents, my great-aunt, the elderly family friend, etc.) He bound them all together and gave them out to the rest of us. It was really interesting reading who did what during WWII, like the family friend who was a Rosie the Riveter or my great-uncle's experiences in Japan. That's definitely something I treasure, and will even moreso as those family members pass away so their stories aren't available anywhere else.


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Re: MIL's Memoir
« Reply #29 on: May 22, 2013, 01:31:49 PM »
Just a thought, it sounds like MIL is still with it, so can you just ask her if she'd like for you to proofread it?