With apologies to Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster (who created the iconic man of steel in 1933), but I couldn’t help myself. Over the past several months I’ve been working with two wonderful women who have written memoirs: Ceil Ramsey and Annel Martin. The time I put into the projects is nothing compared to the energy and effort they put into them. I just count myself lucky for having had the chance to help.
I felt obliged to trot out Superman as a tie-in because of the size of projects such as these. For all the people who attempt them, very few actually complete the task, and fewer still do it in such a way that the end product is pleasing on multiple levels. Neither I nor these two authors expect their books to reach the New York Times bestseller list, but their work will surely be cherished by family members and friends alike. And rightly so!
To review, let’s start with the covers. Both contain images the authors provided. In Ms. Martin’s case, she not only raised the prize-winning flower on her cover, she also took the photo. Ms. Ramsey chose an image which not only captures her, but represents the flow of her narrative as well.
Both books are rich with illustrations, and not just the usual line-everyone-up-and-smile variety. In addition to heirloom photos, there are plenty of graphics to augment the stories, flesh out details, and provide humor, insight and understanding.
Another trait common to both books is honesty. It’s often said that hindsight is 20-20, but when one writes a life story, there’s always a temptation to add vibrant color in some spots while leaving others in shadow if not complete darkness. Both of these writers rose to the challenge and told their stories honestly and without undue embellishment. That doesn’t mean everyone will automatically agree on every detail. The world simply doesn’t work that way. If it did, there’d be no need for more than one eye witness at any trial.
Best of all, perhaps, is that both projects were completed in time for Christmas. I can only imagine the feeling of pride these two great gals will experience when presenting their books as gifts. Theirs are stories no one else could tell, and had they not invested the time and effort, to say nothing of the emotional toll such a project demands, those tales would be lost forever. We all have such stories–whether happy or sad, hopeful or despairing. They are stories that deserve telling, and the only thing that stands in the way is our willingness to do it. In future posts I’ll be discussing the nuts and bolts of presenting those tales in a professional and artistic manner. But that’s the most I can do; the stories must still come from those who lived them. You’ve gotta write ’em yourself.