Many people spend a great many years devoted to their career. What happens to that part of life when you write your memoirs? Too many people leave it out completely. Yet, that’s a huge part of who you are and what you become regardless of the type of work. I want to talk about a couple of books I’ve read that do an excellent job of writing about lives that revolved around careers. They are exciting, entertaining, and the reader comes away feeling like they know the author as a person.
One of the career memoirs that comes to mind is Weekends at Bellevue, by Julie Holland, M.D. The book gets mixed reviews, and I suspect this is typical. Some readers want more about Julie; some readers want more medical focus. Then, there are readers who aren’t happy with the author’s honesty about her feelings and decisions. Therefore, writers who want to write a memoir with a focus on their career, which may be the most important part of the majority of their lives, should read these reviews and read books written with this focus. Many of the complaints seem to be the result of a lack of writing experience and poor editing. Comments about short chapters, choppy writing, and poor content balance, lead back to the editing, which reinforces the need to hire the best editor you can afford before publishing–and then, listen to that person. If necessary, get a second opinion too.
My favorite (so far) is Use What You’ve Got & Other Business Lessons I Learned from My Mom, by Barbara Corcoran, with Bruce Littlefield. Barbara is funny and entertaining as she relates her dramatic success in real estate to things she learned from her mother, who raised ten children. Most people realize that anyone with ten children must be highly organized and efficient or drown under the piles of laundry alone. The writing style successfully blends her career success with stories from her youth. For every challenge and management skill, there is a new story. None of the stories or examples are repetitious. I can see potential to use this style to create a memoir based on a life-long hobby or volunteer work too. It’s a challenging task which requires a great deal of creativity, but the end result is excellent.
Have you read other books with a unique way of presenting a life story? Please share what you’ve found. Remember, books don’t have to be today’s best seller to be well written and provide a great story.