0

I got the idea to write a book about my life story from my mother. At first I thought who would want to read about my life, then I thought back on my life and actually thought wow I have been thru a lot and still going thru alot. So it made me think would anyone actually read it and if I did it would have to have purpose, it would have to help people realise thru my experience that if they are going thru similar things they are not alone. My book would be about becoming a mother at 14, high school drop out, heart health issues, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, depression, relationship issues, being diagnosed with cervical cancer and losing my 17 year old daughter a week later, financial problems, family feuds after losing my daughter, soul searching, spiritual connection and everything in between by the age of 32.. I guess I'm asking, would you read it? would my experiences be helpful to others? And would my experiences be worthy of a book?

4
  • Hi Stoni, I have edited your title to make it specific to the question that you are asking. Feel free to edit it further if you don't feel I have interpreted your intent correctly. – user16226 Nov 2 '16 at 23:25
  • 1
    I will say this: your book will not be lacking for content. I feel a good place to start in answering the question though would be to ask yourself what a reader would get out of it. Is it about the trials you've gone through? Or is it about overcoming those trials? Is there a valuable lesson to be gained, something perhaps that you've learned through all of that which you feel others need to know as well? That will be the central core of your story. – Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron Nov 2 '16 at 23:34
  • It sounds like you want to help people by writing the book. If that's the case, I would write it. – user6035379 Nov 3 '16 at 13:48
  • 1
    Hi and welcome to Writers. Polling questions like this don't work well on our site; we're looking for questions that are objectively answerable in some way. I'm going to put this on hold. I suggest you ask a new question about how you could assess the market for an autobiography with certain themes. Normally I would suggest you edit this question to do that (and then it could be taken off hold), but it already has answers that would then not be answers to the new question, and doing that wouldn't be fair to the people who wrote those answers. Thanks, and please check out our short tour. – Monica Cellio Nov 3 '16 at 22:02
2

People don't read stories because there is a lot of bad things going on in the character's life. A story is more (and less) than life.

Think of the books you have read. In many books, the characters don't go through much, when compared to your life. For example, in many bestsellers, the protagonist does no more than fall in love with someone and they get together. That is certainly less than a life. In other books, the characters achieve impossible things. For example, in many bestsellers, random ordinary people safe the world. That is certainly more than any real person has ever achieved.

What makes a story a story (and not a life) is that a story tells of a clearly defined set of events with a distinct beginning and an unmistakeable closure. For example, in the Lord of the Rings, Frodo's story (not life) begins with Bilbo giving him the Ring, and the story ends with Frodo destroying the Ring. The story does give some information on Frodo's life beyond his task of destroying the Ring, but only because his life is different than our own and we need to know a bit about his world to understand the purpose of his task. In a story set in our world, we are given much less background information and learn a lot less about the lives of the characters than in a fantasy.

To make your life interesting to a wider audience, to make it "readable", you would have to distill from it a story. It won't do to just narrate everything you rember, or have been told, from birth to today. You need to give your narration of your life an artistic form.

Begin by identifying the theme of your life's story. Looking back on your life, what is your life about? Try to find a single word or short sentence that for you represents the essence of your life. I don't know you, so I won't try to suggest anything. But do take some time for that, as everything else will be based on that. For the Lord of the Rings, the theme could be something like "overcoming greed" (think of the temptation of power that the Ring offered, and how Frodo had to fight to overcome it, and how everyone else, from Gandalf to the elves, didn't have the integrity to resist it).

When you have your theme, try to identify the premise. Again look back on your life and identify the point in time when what is your theme began to have an effect on your life or began to be something that influenced your behavior. For Frodo, that moment came when Bilbo gave him the Ring. Then identify the moment when you achieved the goal or end that the theme implied. For Frodo, it was the destruction of the Ring. Then write one or a handful of sentences that summarize who you were at the outset of that journey, what obstacles you had to overcome, and how you managed to finally achieve the end or goal. For Frodo, that premise might be something like: a young hobbit is given the task of destroying the Ring that would enslave the whole world, and through the power of friendship and by his own inner strength he manages to overcome the temptations evil. (I'm sure others can come up with a better premise for the Lord of the Rings, but I'm sure you understand the idea behind my example.)

Now you have a short version of your life's story. This is the scaffolding or skeleton or roadmap or reference point for your writing. And now you can start to outline your story. Write a five page summary of your life, that includes the most important events and insights, as they relate to your life's premise. Again take some time for that. Go over it a couple of times and try to identify how you and the other people in your life changed in relation to the theme of your life. Did you learn something? Did you fail to learn something? How did this learning or failure to learn influence what happened? What effect did other people have on your life, and what effect did your life have on other people? What were the highlights and the low points in your life, what caused them, how did the happiness come to an end, and how did you overcome rock bottom?

When you have that outline, write a first draft. Don't spend too much time polishing sentences, just try to write out the basic story. Then let it rest for a few months, maybe give it to someone to read (who is not a friend but a stranger and will give you honest feedback on the story, not supportive feedback on your life), and then reread your story. Finally, rewrite your story, work in the feedback you have received (and that you think is valid) and your own experiences when rereading, and start to polish the language and style. Then submit.

1

I would read your story - I like biographical narratives - isn't it always interesting to learn what other people have done with their life on earth? - But i think my main motivation for writing is not so much about trying to be understood by others, but to better understand myself... Maybe it turns out to be reflective writing that wouldn't necessarily be a bestseller.. be that as it may, it could be the most important thing you do in life - to write it all down...

Kind of in the vein of: “Poetry is a verdict, not an occupation.” ― Leonard Cohen

Meaning, to me, that writing is not a choice really, but a method of self-expression and the act of creatively summarizing your experiences is all the justification you need...

Not sure this can be considered an answer to your question, but I wanted to make the point that if you feel like writing.. then write!!! And see where it takes you...

Cheers!! Guinness

1

I think you need to examine your reasons for writing and then the personal journey that would take you on. A lot depends on your motivation.

Do you want to write about your life? Would putting down all the facts, feelings and memories into print be in any way useful to you as a person? In that case just go ahead and it doesn't matter if nobody ever reads it. I assume that you are going to do a biography rather than fiction so you have to be factually correct and careful what you say about others. That means it's not a novel where you can re-write parts or alter things.

Do you then think it would be useful to someone else? If you published and only a single person read it but it in some way helped them would that be enough for you to feel it was worthwhile? Would you need it to be 10, 20 or 100?

If you are hoping for a large income from a best selling book and movie rights then you have to be realistic and understand that probably wont happen (it might but I don't think that should be your only motivation).

What I'm trying to say is work out why you want to do it and from that you can figure out what 'success' means to you. Just using sales figures is probably the wrong approach.

EDIT:

Just to actually answer your questions:

Would you read it? Not sure, as a 50 year old male I'm probably not your target audience but I think my wife would and that means I might be persuaded if she said I should.

would my experiences be helpful to others? Only 'others' can answer that and they can't form an opinion without reading it. Also you have to define what helpful means. It might be that someone just feels like their problems are not as bad as they thought or it might be someone thinking that there is another person who understand a bit about what they are going through at the time. The word 'helpful' covers a lot of ground.

Would my experiences be worthy of a book? I don't see why not. I've read enough woefully bad fiction that has managed to see print. Why would a real life story rate lower than that?

0

My personal view is that readers prefer books about meaning in one's life (Eat, Pray, Love) and aren't too picky when it comes to content. If there is a story to tell of course do tell it...and hopefully tell it well.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.