Dec 04, 2020

Could ‘story clubs’ be the new book club, and a chance to start on that memoir?

It’s interesting how a confluence of events can give rise to a new idea, in this case for a story club –  well, at least, it’s an idea that I’ve not heard of before. And in case it’s something that those people on the verge of writing a memoir might find a novel approach that they’d like to consider, I thought I’d offer it here.

As background to its evolution, it was the product of three events coming together. Firstly, after some years of wishing that I once again belonged to a book club, I recently got together with a few local friends to start one.

At around about that time, too, I found myself exchanging stories of our early lives with a friend. And then, as an 80th birthday present and as a way of helping her father to work on his memoir, our skilled interviewer daughter started interviewing him and recording his recollections from his earliest days (with the added technology that that can later be converted into text).

And suddenly, as a combination of all of that, the notion of a story club popped into my mind: to have a group of older people getting together to recount their stories to each other, while each records their own narrative. The thing is, on the one hand, while some of us have written a memoir for our family, there are many more of us who would like to do that, but aren’t sure how to get started. And on the other hand, we know that everyone has a story and not only is it usually very interesting, but it can also reveal so much that we don’t know about people whom we thought that we did know.

So, light bulb moment! Why not combine the idea of a club (not to replace book clubs, but as another venture) and memoir writing, and get together with interested friends and work out a way that suits that group – which could number anything from two upwards – of hearing each other’s stories while they’re being recorded, so that each could use their recording as at least a starting point for a memoir? How it could work might be by trial and error, experimenting in the get-togethers, trying out perhaps having just one person telling their story (or a part of it) over the whole meeting time, or several getting an allocated time within a meeting to reminisce about some portion of their lives, and with an accumulation collected over a series of meetings.

Whatever approach is decided on, this idea sounds like something that could be worth giving a go, with multiple benefits including the possibility of deepening friendships with greater knowledge in the present, and creating a legacy of memories documented for those who come after us.

Anne Ring ©2020

Image: yacobchuk, iStock.

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