My collaboration with my grandfather on his memoirs, Nick, A Life, ten years before his death at age 98, inspired me to start this business.
I saw what a powerful effect writing his story had not just on him but on my family. It brought peace, allowing him to be more present in his final years, and pride, in the best sense of the word. It deepened our family’s sense of shared history, and will someday let our future children know who he was, in his own words. When I read it today, it makes me feel like my grandfather is still in the room. I helped him edit and organize it, and my aunt did the incredibly heavy lifting of organizing images and managing the actual hardcover publishing. But not everyone can make that concentrated gift of time to their parents, and I wanted to provide a service to fill that gap.
I also come to this work professionally. Aside from a decade-plus career as an editor, I was apprentice to the best-selling oral historian David Rensin (The Mailroom, All for a Few Perfect Waves), who taught me so much about how to use interviews to create a gripping narrative. Thanks to David, I had the incredible experience of sitting poolside in Beverly Hills to help craft the ultimately-never-published memoirs of the late, great Freddie Fields, super agent to such stars as Judy Garland and my personal favorite, Peter Sellers.
Finally, I am the author of my own quasi-memoir, Runner's Discovery Journal, which blends elements of my own journey into an interactive guide to the mental transition of becoming a runner, for people who have either thought they couldn't run, or would never want to.
The Memoir Builder
I want to encourage as many people as I can to explore writing about their lives. That’s why, beyond my service business, I created the Memoir Builder tool found on this site. I hope it will inspire people who are ready to invest the time, but not necessarily the money, to write their memories – not haphazardly, but by walking systematically through all the rooms of their life.
You can start using the Memoir Builder today to explore the story that is your life.
When you finish, you’ll have a comprehensive picture of the most important people and moments in your life, to share with friends and families. This might be the finished project, or it might be the beginning of something more ambitious. Whatever level of assistance you need, Grace Memoirs can provide it.
More On Why to Write a Memoir
The New York Times columnist David Brooks recently asked people over 70 to write "Life Reports." Analyzing those reports, he found that those who “divided life into chapters” – or in other words, took charge of their own narrative – were the happiest in their old age. “[They] divided time into (somewhat artificial) phases. They wrote things like: There were six crucial decisions in my life. Then they organized their lives around those pivot points.”
You may not yet know your crucial decisions. Using the tool on this site is an excellent way to find your way to that point, while creating a historic record for your family of the many rich details of your past, and your present.
More reason to write: Descriptive writing sets fire crackers off in your brain. Another recent NY Times piece described “your brain on fiction”: “Researchers have long known that the ‘classical’ language regions, like Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area, are involved in how the brain interprets written words. What scientists have come to realize in the last few years is that narratives activate many other parts of our brains as well, suggesting why the experience of reading can feel so alive. Words like ‘lavender,’ ‘cinnamon’ and ‘soap,’ for example, elicit a response not only from the language-processing areas of our brains, but also those devoted to dealing with smells.”
If that’s how your brain reacts when it reads imagistic, emotional stories, imagine how it reacts when it writes them. And imagine how family members will react to and live your story, inspiring a much higher degree of connection than you’ve previously had.