Help! Can someone talk to me?
So you want to get your Life Story down. You’ve had a good look over Create Your Life Story and understand the rewards of doing this. You have an audio recorder and maybe written a few notes about what you intend to talk about. As yet, you don’t know how to edit the audio, let alone publish the information on CD or a web page but that can wait for later. For now you know where you are and realise that it’s important to get some of those stories into the recorder.
However you find that every time you sit down to start telling stories you feel awkward and the audio that you record is stilted and it just doesn’t sound like you.
What should you do?
Getting some help
There are several ways of getting the help that you need to record your life story. The most important thing is to keep moving forward and not giving up. You know you have the stories in you but all you need is to have someone to sit and listen to you as you mention them and maybe ask a few questions that will help you to keep the conversation flowing. Someone who is interested enough to engage but not to interfere.
Professional or Family help with recording Your Life Story
There are several groups of people in your community who can help in various ways to enable you to relax and engage during the conversations that you want to record, each having various advantages.
- Professional, conversation interviewer
- Contemporary from a social or community group
- Good family friend
- Second or later relative
- Family member who has married into family
- Immediate family member
A professional oral historian or interviewer can have the advantages of being skilled in the conversational task and already knowledgeable about the recording process and technology. Ensure that a professional isn’t too academic and realises that their task is to maintain a conversation and not to interview. Their roll is to facilitate storytelling not to interrogate.
A contemporary from a community group that you belong to could be an ideal person to ask and engage with you. To help you find the words and answer the questions that you may not have considered. It’s worth ensuring that they are a good listener and don’t know you too well.
A long term family friend, especially if they are a friend of someone else in your family. They know you through that connection and know the lay of the land, of the family history but are not too close to you. They have the ability to know the general questions to ask but not the family baggage to feel intimidated.
A second or third generation family member is similar to the family friend as they know the family but are not emotionally involved with you. This person could ideally be a grandchild, niece or nephew, or more distant relative.
An in-law family member is someone who knows you but also isn’t directly involved in the long term family history and could know some interesting things to ask. As they are married to one of your very close family, some care should be taken as they may be emotionally involved.
An immediate family member of a child, parent or sibling could be excellent as they have all the questions and knowledge along with some strong motivation to sit with you and record your Life Story However they may know too much and not ask the questions to help others understand the overview of the topic being discussed. They also can have all sorts of emotional baggage that can prevent them from asking some of the difficult questions. An ideal way of resolving this issue is to trade family members. For example your son could talk to your sister and your niece could talk to you. This way two differing views of the greater family can be explored along with your personal life story.
Ask for help
If you can think of someone to help you, why not ask them to do one of the most wonderful things they can do for you. Ask for help for whatever you need. Mention that primarily you would like them to simply sit and talk with you so you have someone to feel comfortable talking to as you record your Life Stories.