Once my memoir Becoming Alice was published, I was asked to speak with quite a number of groups locally. I also have been interviewed for my own website and other websites. A question that has come up repeatedly was, “When did you become a writer?” Another was, “What made you decide to write your memoir?”
I’d have to go very far back in time to tell you about the first time someone said to me, “You ought to write a book about your story.” The person who said that to me was my fifth grade teacher who asked our class to write our autobiography at the beginning of the school semester in order to get to know us better. There was no one in my classroom of second and third generation Italian kids who had anything like my own experience of escaping from Hitler’s Europe at the beginning of WWII.
My answer to my teacher was, “Perhaps I will someday.”
I didn’t know then that it would take me some seventy years to do so. In one of my prior blogs I wrote about how my grandson got me into gear. Still, I questioned my abilities to be a writer and so I took classes for over a year. My intention was to write my story well enough that my family and future ancestors would be interested in reading it.
My teacher at that time told us to get that thought straight out of our minds. She went on to talk about a student she had who had the same mind set. It was a lady from a small midwest town who wrote about her life as the wife of a very successful CEO at a large corporation. She was delegated to a second place position in the family and despite this, wrote an exceptional work about her experience: interesting, sensitivite and with understanding. After it was published, she gifted copies to her four children. Even after several years had passed, none of them had read a word of it.
I am fortunate to know that two of my three children have read Becoming Alice. I think the third one may have skimmed it … I hope. But my point is … that it doesn’t matter. The words are there for whenever anyone, at any point in the future, has an interest in reading them. The book is there.
And how do you know that there might not be people out there outside your family who will find meaning in your words, and take pleasure in reading your story, and will identify with what you’ve said. I can tell you from personal experience that I did not anticipate what adventures would follow after Becoming Alice hit the marketplace.
If I’ve learned anything during my time as a writer, it is to let go of any self-doubts and write what you must write without thinking about who will read it, or when it will be read.