The story of your life is uniquely yours. Nobody else has lived, nor will ever live, the same life as you. Would you, whether you consider yourself a writer or not, consider penning your autobiography? It seems a great many people do indeed put pen to paper and fingers to keys, confessing all, often but not always in the later years of their lives.
Something of the ordinary
Whether such works have literary merit, whatever that is exactly, is debatable. But then, many autobiographies and memoirs aren’t written to be seen as worthy or even read by millions. They’re not produced for profit but to ensure that history will know something of the ordinary among us, the majority, rather than being entirely populated with the reality-distorting accounts of kings and queens, ministers and pop stars. Of course, they are also personal narratives driven by the desire to bequeath information to family and friends.
Encouraging the recording
We all know how valuable information has become. We are living in an age when governments read our every email and text message, monitor our website visits and listen in to our phone calls (wrong in my view, even if argued as being legal). Given the fact of mass surveillance, one way in which we might meaningfully react against the flood of trivia being scrutinised is by encouraging the recording and dissemination of data that actually has real currency. By which I mean, your story. What did war smell like in the trenches? Describe your high street before each and every high street came to be populated with the exact same shops with global ambitions. What was it like to live through the 1960s, the 1970s, the 1980s? How did the politics and social conventions of yesteryear impact on you as an individual human being?
We all have a story to tell
We all have a story to tell, perhaps many, ranging from the mundane to the extraordinary, the comic to the tragic or grotesque. Writing our narratives down gives them a chance to survive beyond our own inescapable mortality. Imagine if the Druids had a written, as opposed to oral, tradition of recording their stories and teachings. We wouldn’t have been left with only the propagandist accounts of conquering Romans and, centuries later, the early Christians from which to glean scraps of information while hoping they are truthful accounts and not flights of fancy.
If you want to write, write
The value of a thing can and does always change, as do perceptions of it. But memories? Memories are priceless and, if not written down, vanish from this world. A story recounted by anyone of any age might not be entirely truthful, for memories are fragile, easily warped, formed upon a foundation of subjective beliefs and life-altering experiences. But, if enough are available for historians to collate and sift, patterns begin to emerge and realistic impressions of the past can be drawn from them.
So if you want to write, write. You don’t have to be a professional wordsmith. Writing can be therapeutic, motivating, inspiring and revealing. Writing is good for you. It might prove good for your descendants too, when they read the story of your life.