Wait. *You’re* going to write a memoir?

Uncle BabooNope, not me. I only have to teach other folks how to do it. So, for now at least, no one outside the family has to worry about me exposing crazy old uncle Naboo and his peculiar approach to tending livestock.

Ick. ‘Nuff said.

The baby boomers have brought a variety of issues to the forefront over the years, and I’m not just talking about Social Security or seventy being the new forty. Driven largely by an abundance of leisure time–forced or otherwise–more folks than ever are thinking about who they are, what they’ve done, or where they came from. Surely some of the answers to those questions are worth remembering–and sharing!

turn of the century heroin

Mother’s Little Helper

Considering how rapidly technology has changed our lives, that topic alone could fuel a great many memoirs. 100 years ago, Las Vegas had a population of about 30, and drug stores were marketing heroin with claims that it “…clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health!”

Not only that, but you could gas up your Model T at the drug store, too. Back then, they were the only ones selling petrol.

We’ve come a long way in 100 years, but we’ve come even farther in the last 50 or so. The folks writing memoirs nowadays can recall watching–live!–as Neil Armstrong stepped out on the surface of the moon. That sorta one-ups great grandpappy’s travels on the Oregon trail. What’s even freakier, to me anyway, is that we now have more computing power in the average smart phone than we had in the Apollo moon landers and all the space shuttles combined.

toy bomberThe generation writing about this stuff is the generation which made it happen. We can tell our grandkids we used to walk to the local shoe store, stick our feet inside an X-ray machine and watch our bones move while we wiggled our toes in the latest Buster Browns. Hey, it was the “Atomic Age.” What could possibly go wrong? (Ask any of the poor schlubs who had to calibrate those early X-ray machines by dosing themselves week after week. But sadly, you can’t; they’re all dead now.)

Still, there are folks writing memoirs today who knew veterans of the Civil War. Many grew up on farms where the only running water available was in a stream out behind the barn. Milk and eggs were delivered on a daily basis by the critters living in that barn. Can’t get much fresher than that.

All those memories are important, even the ones which recall nothing but the quiet times between civil rights marches and riots of various kinds, at home and abroad. The Cold War cast a 40-year shadow over the whole planet, and the children of today need to know that discord isn’t new. It’s still bloody awful, but it’s survivable. It may have changed shape and substance, but there’s still a chance we can keep the species going, provided we learn from the past.

And what better way to do that than via memoir? It’s something anyone with a past can do, and it’s something that could prove immensely valuable to people not even born yet.

So, you’re thinking about writing a memoir? Good for you! I can help.

–Josh

About joshlangston

Grateful and well-loved husband, happy grandparent, novelist, editor, and teacher. My life plate is full, and I couldn't be happier. Anything else I might add would be anticlimactic. Cheers!
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4 Responses to Wait. *You’re* going to write a memoir?

  1. I signed up for your class but if it’s full I’m coming anyway.

  2. Judy Holby says:

    Wow! What a walk down memory lane. And I thought there wasn’t anything worth writing about in my past. Trouble for me would be isolating it to one theme so it held together.

    Judy

  3. Karen Boyce says:

    I’m all about memoirs . . . now. But back in the dark ages when I was 20, 30 or even 40 I just wasn’t interested – too busy. And that’s exactly why those of us in an older generation need to write our stories or those stories we know of folks now lost to us, because someday our kids will want to know, and the information will be there for them. Nice nudge here from you, Josh!

  4. An-l says:

    Josh, you’re amazing! Keep it up. boy.

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