I've worked most of my adult life as an actor. One of my grandchildren was watching television and saw an old movie in which I appeared. "Grandpa, is that you?" After having to explain what I did for a living, it occurred to me that I was no different. I knew very little about my ancestors. At the time, I didn't know what my own grandfather (who died before I was born) did for a living. I wanted to make sure that future generations of my family know that I existed and what I did for a living. It was then that I realized how important it was to write my life's story to preserve my legacy.
Of all the books I researched when I first set out to undertake this task, I found Frank P. Thomas' "How to Write the Story of Your Life" to be among the most concise and most helpful. It became my constant companion as I spent those long hours at night in my study pounding away on my keyboard or sitting at the dining room table handwriting a vignette to be added to the book.
Thomas' book is laid out in an easy-to-read format, lending itself not only as a step-by-step guide, but sectionalized in such a way as to be used as a handy research resource manual. There is a lot of sound advice contained within his book that I found to be highly effective. For example, it helps not to ignore news and current events occurring during the telling of one's life, even if you don't actually relate the news items directly. By spending a few hours in the library to research certain magazine articles and newspaper headlines from a particular period, I found my memory banks were stimulated and I was often able to capture a flavor of the political climate, social mores, fashions, and/or cultural fads of the time. Those influences were incorporated into the events of my life. Sometimes I was able to relate to current events of the time directly, which helps to allow readers to identify with you personally.
Another important lesson I learned was that in order to capture and maintain a reader's attention, you must stimulate as many of his/her senses as you can. Therefore, I found myself going through my text trying to find places where I could introduce stimuli to sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.
This is but a mere sampling of the invaluable direction I received from Thomas. The result was my autobiography was published under the title "Surrender the Jealous Mistress" (available through amazon.com), which I'm told is engaging and reads like a novel. If that's true, then I attribute a large portion of that compliment to Frank Thomas' sound advice and guidance.
No matter how insignificant you may perceive it to be (it's not), I encourage you to attempt to write your life's story. Once that decision is made, I highly recommend obtaining a copy of Frank Thomas' book, "How to Write the Story of Your Life," to guide you through the process.