July 30, 2020

Do you have a story to tell?

Carol Godsmark of Your Life, Your Story, explains the growing trend of people from all walks of life recounting heartfelt first-person accounts of their own lives in private book form – and why yours matters too.

Nobody, but nobody in this world has had a life like your own.

London nurse Christie Watson never imagined writing a memoir about her job as a nurse, much less about her life, as she described recently in a Guardian newspaper article. After 20 years walking corridors between cubicles and intensive care wards, mostly in children’s hospitals, Watson had plenty to tell – resuscitating patients in cardiac arrest or looking after a young boy after a transplant operation. It is a gently remarkable book about what it means to be a nurse, what it means to care, writes doctor-writer Adam Kay, who wrote the article.

 “Because it was a story about me, my life and my memories and particularly about my family and my Dad, I think those things came very naturally because it was from the heart as opposed to from the head,” Christie is reported to have said. The result, The Language of Kindness, is a moving first-person account of life on hospital wards.

If you think that writing your life story is not for you, think again. Why should biographies be the preserve of the rich and famous? Christie Watson was not in either of these categories but a person with a story to tell. Pulling apart the threads of all our lives, who’s to say whose has been more important — or more interesting? Just because you’ve never been a nurse on children’s wards, a superstar footballer, a star of stage and screen with a decidedly racy past or a politician holding high office, it doesn’t mean that what you have done isn’t worth putting down on paper. In fact, this is the very reason why people should write their story down for family and friends or telling their story, possibly to a writer who can shape it into a book —because nobody, but nobody in this world has had a life like your own.

 I’m a novelist, a non-fiction writer and previously PR manager for Chichester’s independent cinema, Chichester Cinema at New Park, as well as being a journalist for over 25 years, mostly covering the restaurant, food, film, health and travel sector. My stints in nursing in London, living and working in various countries as a stewardess on ritzy airlines and teaching business courses, running restaurants as a chef-owner as well as being a Samaritan and court volunteer helping witnesses in court has been character-forming, life’s experiences of us all worthy of telling our story – your story.

My new business, Your Life, Your Story, was recently launched to interview would-be biographers, writing their stories and seeing it to book form to give to family and friends. Unearthing the person that they are, who or what shaped them, what they value in life, is my focus. Those interviewed may have been a successful tennis coaches, working in the field of social care, an amateur or professional entertainer or following in the footsteps of their family business. There are endless life’s experiences, who or what shaped each and every one of our lives and the choices we make. A life-changing moment may have come about to grab new opportunities. Our stories and those people we met along the way are the fabric of our lives, adding moments of joy, humour or tragedy to our everyday existence.

A memoir, printed privately for family and friends, doesn’t always have to document the lives of individuals or families. It could be the story of a company you’ve set up, the ups and downs of a business just as intriguing as a life story, as demonstrated by Wilfred Cass in his memoir, Here Comes Mr. Cass, and whose business acumen culminated in The Cass Foundation and Sculpture at Goodwood, Chichester. His memoir is about ‘following your instincts, even when that means swimming against the tide, and starting to make something extraordinary out of nothing.‘

A person’s history – part of our collective social history – can enhance the knowledge of our families, many of whom may only have known the individual as an adult, or in the role of parent or grandparent, not a glimpse of the more rounded person.

But it’s more than that. It’s a chance to re-evaluate our lives– or a portion of our lives – and gain pleasure from remembering the past. During lockdown we may have been thinking of our past lives and where our lives will lead us. Now’s a good time to get it down on paper, Your Life, Your Story guiding you to the finishing line.

Contact Your Life, Your Story on 0771 7777 478