Now About that Memoir…

By Gayle Bartos-Pool

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Several of us on The Writers-in-Residence blog have been mentioning writing a memoir recently. Maybe you’re thinking that it must be associated with people “of a certain age,” but frankly, younger people haven’t lived through nearly as many adventures, ups, downs, and life in general as we folks in that upper age bracket, so we do have more to write about, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start writing your own memoir now and keep adding to it.

But it is true that older folks have survived it all, the good, the bad, and what life threw in our path to make us who we are. And you want to know something else? We all learn from those things. I’m sure you all have stories to tell. So why not let others laugh and cry and say Wow! along with you? Your friends and family will enjoy reading about your life because they weren’t with you every step of the way unless you’re a Siamese twin. Younger people can actually learn things when they read how you became you.

And there is a bonus in there, too. You will start to understand who you are as well. There will be some things that you recall, maybe some that have been buried for a while, that will let you reevaluate your life and see that you were and still are a very interesting person. You won’t be able to change the past, but you can see what you did along the way. If there were problems in your life, what did you do to overcome them? Not everybody starts out a Rockefeller.

As for John D. Rockefeller, the head of one of the wealthiest families in America, he started out as a bookkeeper at sixteen in Cleveland in 1855. He sold and moved produce during the Civil War to the Union Army. He was an abolitionist, voted for Lincoln, and after the war when the need arose switched from food stuffs to oil. An oil glut had some refiners dump the excess in rivers and streams, J.D. used the surplus to run his refineries and turned the rest into other by-products. He wasn’t going to pollute the waterways or waste all that product. He founded Standard Oil. The guy had a philosophy: He said God had provided the opportunity to earn all the money he had made; J.D. didn’t mind making it. He also wanted to save as much as he could and give away as much as he could. He was a philanthropist and considered one of the richest men ever in American history. There were downsides to his businesses, but he did a lot of good in his life. But that is what makes people so interesting no matter what they have in the bank. The good, the bad and the interesting.

dad-and-meI had the opportunity to have a father in the United States Air Force. We lived on the island of Okinawa when I was 5-7 and in France when I was a teenager. I went to a boarding school that provided an education that exceeded my first year in college in Memphis. I switched schools because I wanted to actually learn something. To pay for my college education, my wonderful dad sold some of the French clocks he and my mom had collected while we lived in France. I worked a year between my sophomore and junior years in college as a private detective to earn money myself and to see what the world was all about. That was probably as important as the four years in college. After I graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis and worked another year to earn money, I moved to California. I took acting lessons so I could learn about the movie industry and especially how to write dialogue because I wanted to write for TV or the movies. I had a few scripts looked at, but none sold. I decided to write mystery novels instead. There is even a story in how that came about, but you’ll have to read my upcoming memoir to see how that happened. It’s a good story. Oh, I went on to write 24 books. I guess all this preparation in life laid the groundwork for that little endeavor.

I have a little saying that I wrote a while back:

It doesn’t matter what you don’t have; It’s what you do with what you have.

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I have been working on my memoir for nearly a year. I have over 40 scrapbooks with bits and pieces of my life from the time I was born to today. I even have my mom’s family album that I redid when it started to fall apart that has the family’s history in pictures. What a joy to look through it now with my niece and her kids. My brother and I still recall old stories and some of them are in the book. It’s full of pictures and memorabilia and stories of my family and me. It shows how I became who I am.

So when you are writing your memoir, even if it takes you a few years to go through your scrapbooks or diaries or old photographs or spend a few holidays with family and talk about old times, discover who you are and share it with others. We all have a story to tell. Frankly, we are all interesting. Write On!

From PI to Mystery Writer

Author: gbpool

A former private detective and once a reporter for a small weekly newspaper, Gayle Bartos-Pool (writing as G.B. Pool) writes three detective series: the Gin Caulfield P.I. series (Media Justice, Hedge Bet & Damning Evidence), The Johnny Casino Casebook Series, and the Chance McCoy detective series. She also penned a series of spy novels, The SPYGAME Trilogy: The Odd Man, Dry Bones, and Star Power. She has a collection of short stories in From Light To DARK, as well as novels: Eddie Buick’s Last Case, Enchanted: The Ring, The Rose, and The Rapier, The Santa Claus Singer, and three delightful holiday storied, Bearnard’s Christmas, The Santa Claus Machine, and Every Castle Needs a Dragon. Also published: CAVERNS, Only in Hollywood, and Closer. She is the former Speakers Bureau Director for Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles and also a member of Mystery Writers of America and The Woman’s Club of Hollywood. She teaches writing classes: “Anatomy of a Short Story,” (The Anatomy of a Short Story Workbook and So You Want to be a Writer are available.) “How To Write Convincing Dialogue” and “Writing a Killer Opening Line” in sunny Southern California. Website: www.gbpool.com.

18 thoughts on “Now About that Memoir…”

  1. Gayle, I can’t wait to read your memoir – or rather, your life story. It already sounds fascinating, and you are part of the American Dream. I just sent my latest biography to the publisher but I don’t plan to write as many as 24 books as you have. I don’t have scrapbooks but bins of press clippings, which basically follow my life since my 20s as I wrote news, features, and columns for newspapers everywhere I lived.
    Thank you so much,
    jill

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    1. Jill, Your life reads like a book… Hint, hint. Just the stories you told at lunch various times says it might be time for you to put your name on your own biography.

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  2. Gayle, your memoir is already on my “must read” list. As for me, I’ve never considered my life to be interesting enough to warrant writing about it, except excerpts, which have found their way into my novels.

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    1. Bits and pieces of my life have turned up in my books as well. But why not look through the photos you might have or just talk to relatives and see what an incredible life you have had.

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  3. Once again, I’m inspired to write a memoir…someday. Meanwhile, I’ll really look forward to reading your memoir, Gayle! Thanks for an enjoyable post.

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    1. Linda, You were a lawyer before you started writing. Even if it wasn’t exactly like Perry Mason, there are stories there because not many of us are lawyers at all. And then you have over 50 books in print. Gad! That’s magnificent. It took a great life to write those books. You are a story in yourself.

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  4. Gayle – what an insightful post! We all have interesting things in our lives. even those things that seem mundane, ordinary to us can be fascinating to others. And especially your life! I can’t wait to read your memoir, Gayle.

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    1. Rosie – I know many of your stories and Rick’s, too. They should go in a book. Story after story will intrigue people. Just the famous movie stars you interviewed would fill 25% of your memoir. And The Woman’s Club, even if that story is just the good parts would start filling up a book. You said it yourself: “We are all interesting.”

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  5. Great post, Gayle, as always, starting me thinking(smile) Love the picture of you and your dad, and I can see you in my mind’s eye looking through your pictures and scrap books! I will continue to consider a memoir even though it would be very difficult for me, in that as an only child, my life happenings are internal to me only, not shareable with brothers, sisters, etc. Also, hermit like in personality. But there is so much truth in your post getting me to think some more…
    As for YOU, I can’t wait to read your memoir…especially your Private detective stint! Now, you have same tales to tell….(smile)

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    1. Mad, People who come from large families have no idea what it’s like to be an only child. Your story would be fascinating. We truly all do have a story to tell.

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  6. How exciting that you’re writing a memoir, GB. You’ve led a fascinating life, and I only know a fraction of it, so I will be at the front of the line to buy your memoir and find out more about how you became … you!

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    1. Bonnie, I know a few of your stories. You and Thunder alone have some tales, or should I say “tails,” to tell. Write On!

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  7. Gayle, I join the crowd in looking forward to your memoir. Like Miko, bits and pieces of my life end up in my stories. Thanks for an inspiring post.

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