For the last few years Mr. Ed has been thinking about writing his life story.. his memoirs so to speak. He even started, then stopped several times. But this year was THE year, and it was a lovely experience for him and for me, editor-in-chief (ha-ha) to work it through. Most people we told about the project were very positive. Many supposed that I had learned lots of new things about my dear husband’s life experiences, but no… there were no new revelations involved. But somehow seeing the whole story together had a different impact and was a revelation in itself.
Here’s the process:
Mr. Ed and I have always enjoyed conversation with each other so it was natural to talk about childhood experiences and grown-up experiences as well. So the way we started was for him to just sit at his computer and using the Columbus method (find it and land on it), simply type out memories of his life as rolled through his recollections. We kibitzed back and forth with no particular order in mind, just a putting down of memories, which generated even more memories and life stories. Now I should tell you that Mr. Ed has had a very interesting life, but that’s not the only thing that makes his story a good read. He has the story-teller’s gift of gentle humor poked mostly at himself, along with good explanations of what was happening. My task as editor was to clean up grammatical and spelling errors, bring some orderliness to the timeline and ask clarifying questions to flesh out some parts of the story all while maintaing Mr. Ed’s “voice” as the teller of his story. Sometimes this brought on gales of laughter, sometimes tears.
The second phase of the project was adding pictures and articles about the times and the impact of world events. Since Mr. Ed served in WWII as well as the Korean War, world events had a very profound affect on his life and that of his family. Pulling out pictures, scanning them and adding them in appropriate places was a delightful exercise again bringing on a lot of tenderness and laughter.
After the pictures, graphics and articles were inserted it was time for another edit, and another edit, and another edit, .. etc., etc., etc.. Believe me I have the utmost respect for people who are able to proof-read. I have no such ability so each read through brought another amendment or addition to the text and we could easily still be editing today, but decided to call it quits. That may mean things aren’t quite perfect, but then that’s life, right?
The book contains 97 pages (8 1/2 x 11) in roughly chronological order. Babyhood, childhood, parents, school, young adulthood and military service, life after the Navy, other employers, and finally retirement. I asked him not to incude me in the story as this is his story. But he wanted me to be part of the book so I finally agreed that it was OK to include one picture of the two of us readying for a trip.
Our plan is to have ten copies made and insert them into binders complete with a cover image, dedication information and publication month. We also copyrighted the book even though it’s not going to be placed in the public domain, but will be a Christmas gift for our kids this year (2010).
The main thing that came out of this exercise for me was a renewal of my love and respect for Mr. Ed. It was somewhat like traveling our road of life all over again… a wonderful ride!
My recommendation is for all couples to write their history both individually and together. You’ll be surprised at the joy it will bring.
For me it really was “the most funnest thing ever…”
Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls, Washington, May 23, 2010, All Rights Reserved