Unfortunately all of my grandparents have now passed away; and for each one there are many lost memories. There are stories that we can remember small details of, and then there are meaningful events that we don’t even know we have lost.
Over time, the stories we do have fade. I remember a bit of my grandpa Harry’s life, I remember distinctly some lessons on how to deal with the monotony of school but there are so many things I wish I knew. My Nana couldn’t quite find the right way to get the stories down and I didn’t know that this would be important to me as I grew older.
It’s frankly difficult to capture those memories, yet objects and letters are so meaningful and valuable to look back on. I know some of my school essays are mesmerising to re-read but unfortunately I have thrown a lot of it away – along with it many irrecoverable memories of my own childhood.
Rutger Bruining noticed a few years ago that freelance writers were more readily available and he also saw the world of bespoke printing on the rise. Putting two and two together, he came up with a company called Story Terrace; the main concept to handle the end-to-end process of finding the correct writer, doing the face-to-face interviews, getting an outline of a life story, drafting it back and forth and then the editing, typesetting and printing.
It sounds complicated but he found a way to make it easy!
I wish something like this existed or I knew about it at the time of trying to get my Nana’s stories down, she had a fascinating life. Nana worked in the Royal Air Force and was stationed in St. John’s College Cambridge, then she got married to a Scot (George) and had kids, sadly losing her husband to a heart problem which would be so treatable now, and bringing up 2 daughters by herself, somehow keeping the house, working as a driving instructress and sending my Mum to boarding school…the details mostly lost.
I was approached by Rutger almost 2 years ago now through a friend to just have a chat. I was looking to get my blog of my bike ride made into a book and he was the man to do it! He wanted to also ask a favour of fixing his website, and after several months of helping out and eventually becoming free from another project, I joined Story Terrace full time as their CTO.
We have sold over 150 packages in both the UK and the Netherlands. They have ranged from people who have barely left the town they were born in, to immigrant stories, to entrepreneurs and their business growth, to finally opening up about an abusive upbringing. We have also managed to tell some stories from people with terminal diseases who have since passed. The meaning to the families and friends of getting these stories down is indescribable.
The challenge we have is getting the word out there that you can do this, and also convincing people that now is as good a time as ever to get these memories down, you can always come back to it in ten years and add a few new chapters.
I know I would like to read about my family and where we came from, and I am sure my children and grandchildren would like to learn a bit more about me at some point!
So please share this with others, and tell people about it – maybe even consider buying a package as a gift too. (storyterrace.com)