Welcome to Write Your Life Story for Posterity. My name is Maureen Santini and I created this site to encourage ordinary people to write their life stories and to provide a simple template for them to do so.
Several years ago I set out to learn about my extended family. I spent thousands of hours on research and amassed enormous quantities of information. It soon became apparent, however, that there was no practical way to make sense of such voluminous raw data. The collection of birth, death, baptism, military, census and marriage records for hundreds of people spanning several generations was almost meaningless without a narrative.
Despite the limitations, I tried to write a family history. Constructing a storyline from the dry public record was nearly impossible. Lengthy as it was, the draft wasn’t very interesting or readable due to the lack of personal stories chronicling the lifestyles, personalities, hardships, triumphs, and beliefs of the people in my extended family tree.
My goal had been to write the equivalent of a Little House on the Prairie but I ended up with a long list of individuals and their birth, marriage, and death dates. The final product was so barebones that I briefly considered using it as the basis for a novel.
Like many others, I reached middle age with minimal knowledge of my family history. Genealogy research filled in many factual gaps but the true story – who were these people really – remained and remains elusive. Since the main figures are long dead, the problem has no solution. I set the project aside.
The loss to history of the personalities, beliefs, experiences, and way of life of my ancestors is incalculable.
“Every death is like the burning of a library,” said Alex Haley, the famous author of Roots, describing the void left by individual stories that were never told.
A huge gap occurs in the family narrative and historical record when ancestors die without passing down the details of their lives. Once the information is gone, it is gone forever.
My goal in creating this website was to end the burning of all those libraries. My mission is to convince people to write about their lives.
Some people consider their lives too ordinary to preserve for posterity. That’s nonsense. Everyone has a unique story. Document your life to the best of your ability simply because your life matters and should be preserved. Your life story is your legacy.
Another reason to write it all down is to memorialize your way of life and the issues of your time. We take our day-to-day routines for granted but the truth is drastic changes in lifestyle often occur from generation to generation.
For instance, inventions that have become commonplace in my lifetime alone range from televisions to computers, air conditioning, Google, and email, to name a few. During the same timeframe, the world has just about forsaken outdoor movie theaters, landline telephones, wringer washers, VCRs, privacy, and turntables. Many once-pervasive industries such as lumber mills and railroads are long past their heyday. Your current lifestyle may well be a source of novelty and fascination to your descendants one day.
I believe the decade-by-decade method advocated by this website is the simplest and most complete way to write your life story. But it is not the only way. Many organizations offer classes in memoir and autobiography writing. Ghostwriters will do the job for you. Choose any method that works for you. It doesn’t matter how you write your life story – only that you do write it.
The ultimate goal is to pass down the story of your life to your family and descendants. In the short term, however, you may find that the writing process provides unexpected benefits. The breadth and depth of your journey may surprise you and your loved ones.
If you’ve lived six decades and you write about one decade a week, you will have a draft at the end of six weeks. The time commitment is minor compared with the value of the result. It is difficult to imagine any other activity that could produce such a worthwhile return on your time.
Let’s get started.
The very best family histories will be those in which multiple family members write about their lives. If you agree, encourage your family members and friends to write their stories, too.
Thanks for visiting. Start writing your life story now.
Maureen Santini © Copyright 2019. All Rights Reserved.