There are many people who have had their life stories written by others. Here are links to the Storyical podcast which explores these unique working relationships.
Working with a Personal Historian:
Listen to Storyical the Podcast
In Episode 25 of Storyical listen to Nica Waters. She is a teacher and sailor, and started writing memoir through a class. She uses writing to work her way through issues that she is dealing with, but she used her memoir writing class to compile stories about her grandmother. Motivated to share these stories with her grandmother while she was still alive, Nica compiled and polished a trove of stories that were like love letters to her grandmother.
Marcia is in her nineties and honestly dishes on what it was like to tell her life story and have it set out in a book. A big beautiful book. She spent two days with Ellie Kahn Personal Historian, who was featured in Episode 15. Ellie videotaped her, then had the audio transcribed, and then ingeniously put together Marcia’s book about her life in a way that Marcia never thought possible for a stranger to do. Listen to Marcia give advice about what to expect and how the memoir process worked for her.
Listen to how these Personal Historians work with clients to write their life stories
Listen to Libby Atwater. Libby Atwater started out as a journalist, although her childhood was full of memories listening to family stories. She started out as a Personal Historian when asked to record a friend’s life story. Her clients were people who were from all walks of life, and achieved different things through their careers, but all who wanted to tell their stories. For those who did not have a budget to print a book, she recorded audio histories.
As a writing coach, Patricia Charpentier has experience in helping people write their memoirs. She talks about goal-setting and timelines and historical timelines as a way to getting people to look at the span of their entire life to choose writing about a portion of it. Then she talks about keeping people motivated, and setting goals. The middle of the writing experience is like walking through mud, and then there is the anxiety in finishing. With humor, Patricia shares anecdotes about how she helps her writing clients reach that goal of printing a book, despite 95% of them never having written before.
Ellie Kahn has been an oral historian since 1988. She is from the Los Angeles area and has always been interested in life story. Ellie talks about interviewing people who are towards the end of their life, and the cathartic experience it can be for them to telling their life. Their stories are a gift to family and future generations and listen as Ellie makes it happen for her clients by being there for sole purpose of acknowledging and hearing their stories.