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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Hmmmm....

I had a brilliant idea today, which, like most of my "brilliant" ideas will likely never come to fruition. Either because at the time I have the idea, it actually involves a LOT more than I realize, or I just get stuck because I don't know how to go about it or what to do or anything else.

Here's how the moment of brillance came about this time, though:

I was speaking with a friend this afternoon. (As an aside - I have friends in the real world, people I don't talk to through computers, but who are live and in person! Truly! It's amazing!) Anyway, she was/is an artist but used to be commissioned to go to someone's house and paint a mural...and get paid for it! All she needed was her paints and her music, she set her own hours, let the owners know when she would be coming and going, and was left to do her work. It was an amazing life and she LOVED it.

As we spoke, that's when my own lightbulb went on. I was complaining that I can't do art anymore...nothing will come out of my pencil tip or pen or charcoal. The inspiration is gone. "But", I commented, "I can write."

And that was it. That snapshot of a moment. I paused. She and I looked at each other, thinking the same thing, maybe.

"Yeah! I can write!"

Don't get excited...that's not the entire thought. But let's backtrack; I have ALWAYS wanted to be a writer, ever since childhood. I loved writing. First reading, and then piecing together the stories, and finally realizing I could describe things on paper. It was incredible, and it saved me in my teen years when I spent large chunks of time working on a novel, taking my daydreams and giving them life.

I can't see ever not writing...it's literally part of who I am.

And there's the idea: I can write...MEMOIRS for people! My brother and I have asked Mom to write down her stories, but she can't even REMEMBER many of them anymore. All of us know people who have lived amazing lives, have amazing stories, and just need them to be written down. We still have World War II veterens, Holocaust survivors, Immigrants, and regular people who have done extraordinary things. Right in our midst.

Not everyone can write, though. Some are great verbal storytellers, but have no one to put their words into print, making those words immortal. Some have had great experiences, but need assistance in telling the tales.

Not everyone wants to be so vain as to publish a book about themselves for sale, but they DO want to be remembered to their friends and families. Perhaps they remember stories from their own parents and grandparents, cousins and friends.

I can write those stories.

I'd have to meet with them, sit down and listen, taking notes, having a tape recorder handy. I'd go home and write about it, and return to that person with a manuscript. They'd have to be involved in proofreading it for accuracy, for it wouldn't be my story, but theirs. But I could otherwise handle the rest of the edit, and maybe even help with getting it self-published in a bound edition. They would of course cover the cost but I could do the legwork.

I know that I'd have to charge for materials (paper, disks, etc.) but otherwise I have no idea how or what to charge for this endeavor. I know that many freelance articles charge per word, so maybe it would be a matterof checking into the going rate. And then it would still be a trust issue, for how would the client know I'm not just trying to be wordy? So is "per word" the best way to go about writing someone's story? I think there must be a different way of going about it.

I must research this. On the plus side, I'd be my own boss...except for the individual whose story I'd be telling. And it's something I could do this summer instead of getting "normal" employment. For I could be actively self-employed as a freelancer, even if payment was deferred. (I would not be able to ask for an advance as I'm not a known writer. Unless I was wokingi for someone who personally knows me and knows my character.)

On the down side...I'd have to do some major research first in how to start such a business, or if it would be not such a huge deal, how taxes would be handled, how to self-publish and the best companies. (I do know SOME about this but it's a changing industry and scams are prevalent.) I could also limit the scope, but if someone is looking for a bound book as a family heirloom, especially if it was complete with photos, well, maybe I wouldn't really know HOW to do such a thing.

Personal Consideration

I've applied this idea to myself; would I be willing to pay for such a service? As my Mom is getting up there and many of her stories are already lost to us forever, well, yes, I'd be willing to pay to have them in print. For they would not just be about her, but about her brothers and sisters, people she knew, places, descriptions, historical events, etc. That's a treasure.

Five years ago maybe I wouldn't have cared, but now, as I see people I love aging, well, I realize that they have something to say, something to offer the world, or even just those who are closest to them. How cool to be part of such a tome of memories.

I wish I could open the pages of a book and read about my grandparents and my ancestors...but I can't. I know almost nothing about them. I do have an aunt who has done our family's geneaology, and she's done a wonderful job, but it's quite dry. It gives the facts and the years and what they did, but nothing in the geneology tells us about who they were as human beings, as anything other to a contribution to our family gene pool.

So...as soon as I'm done with this semester, or if I get a few moments of curiosity, I will research this more. Hmmmm.....

4 comments:

Adrienne said...

I think it is a great idea. Do your research and get going!

Adrienne said...

...or just get going and do your research later. That would be my approach. Taxes and such will sort itself out.

Adoro te Devote said...

Adrienne ~ Glad you think it's a good idea but I can't just "get going" for several reasons:

1. Time. I'm still in school and have a MOUNTAIN of work (slowing climbing!). And that's outside of irregular work hours until the end of Jun.

2. I have no customers, no idea how to get them. That alone requires research.

3. I can't obtain clients and then just hope they pay me.

4. I have no business plan - I would never hire someone who doesn't have a plan. It doesn't lend to any credibility at all.

It's impractical and insane to "get going" with none of the elements that would make it work. However, when I get the time to do real research and form a plan, advertise, establish boundaries (ie: I will NOT write "erotica" or other about other issues of immorality!), well, then maybe I've got something. And I can start that research when I get my last assignment turned in for class.

So...maybe this will happen, maybe not. I would enjoy a tax break on my house and computer! :-)

Melody said...

I like your idea! I think it is a work of mercy to listen to people (especially older people) and record their stories and memories for posterity. My Mom was a professional writer who specialized in local histories. She was commissioned to write books on the history of several towns. As part of her research, she interviewed all the old-timers (and their descendants) she could find, and listened to them for hours on end. She was determined that it be a proper history; and was meticulous about verifying dates, names, and things that were part of public record. One of her personal rules was that she would not include in the books things which were not generally known, which would hurt people still living if they were published.
Mom has been gone nine years, but people still tell us how much it meant to them that she listened to, and wrote down, their families' memories.