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Writing Life Story: A Matter of Time

By: Carrie Wigal
Copyright 2005 by Carrie Wigal.

Why haven't you started your memoirs yet?

In a recent poll at Memoirs By: Me the number one answer for not doing so was "time". That doesn't really surprise me. After all, there seems to always be places to go, people to see, and things to do. How can we possibly add one more thing to our plate. I understand, I'm in the same boat myself.

What prompted me to start my memoirs was the desire to write. I enjoy writing. I know not everyone does, but I do. I had always wanted to write a book. So several years ago I set out to accomplish that task...attempting fiction first. That was a flop...I couldn't seem to tell a story without sounding so fake. So then I got the brilliant idea of writing fiction based on my life. That went better but still I didn't enjoy it stories always seemed so cold. Then, I started thinking why must I limit myself to fiction, why not write fact? So that's what started me down my memoir lane.

What prompted me to start Memoirs By: Me is a whole other story.

Aunt Doris. She was the oldest of three and the only in her family who never married nor had children. But, she would tell stories about her family growing up. I especially loved to hear the ones that specifically included me, naturally. She had also done some research on her parents' ancestry, but I wasn't "into that" at the time. Now I wish I was.

A little over three years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it was in the latter stages. She began chemotherapy treatment right away. That summer I made a point to come back east to spend more time with her (I was living in Oklahoma at the time). I saw her on just a few occasions and since the chemo was really hard on her (as I'm sure it is with all who undergo such extreme treatment), our visits were kept short and low-key. When the summer ended, I went back home with every intention of calling her to "interview" her to have her tell me those stories again...this time I wanted to record them.

But I didn't. Do you know why? Time. I didn't have the time. I had just started a new job, my son had gone back to school, I joined the Cub Scouts acting as a den mother to a group of first graders, and my house was going through major renovations. I was lucky to get dinner on the table and produce clean laundry each week, let alone have time to make long distance phone calls.

Then it happened...I received a call from my mother saying my Aunt Doris was fading fast. My first thought was "I have to come out there," but my mother said she wouldn't recognize me if I did. What? I knew she was weak and sick most of the time, but wouldn't recognize me? Then, it hit me...the stories...all those stories I wanted to capture from her life. They were all gone. She was still with us, but her memory was stripped away. How would her life be remembered?

She died shortly thereafter. All I have are a few mementos from her (letters and cards I kept over the years), but that's it. I can't remember all the stories she told, and now they're lost. Oh, how I cried. And still do on occasion. I loved her. I miss her.

It's all a matter of time. We can use it as an excuse to not start our memoirs...or we can use it as a reason to start. This was my reason to start my mission: telling you that your memories matter. Capture them now, while you can. I'll help you in any way I can. Don't let "time" be your excuse...let it be your reason to start. Go ahead and call your Aunt Doris or Sue-Sue or Donna (or whatever her name is) and strike up a conversation, revel in the past awhile, and then write it down. You'll be glad you did.

Carrie Wigal, founder and editor of resides in Central Virginia with her husband and four children. She's dedicated to delivering the message that everyone has a story to tell, and she's helping tell them. Visit to learn how easily you can tell your real life stories today.

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