Often memoir writers and videographers get asked what’s different about what we do and what StoryWorth does. There is a world of difference.
What you get with online memoir programs
StoryWorth is an online program that emails questions such as ‘What was your favourite piece of music when you were a teenager? or ‘What did you want to be when you grew up?’. The questions are short and at times not relevant to your life. When you send your answers back, at the end of a year, StoryWorth sends you all your answers in a hardback book, and that’s your memoir.
Online memoir programs are entirely self-directed and some find that they are just not interested in answering the questions for, say, the 52 weeks of the StoryWorth program. Other barriers are that some people are not comfortable writing on a computer, or writing at all if English is not their mother tongue.
What you get with a life story professional
This sort of program can prompt memories but is not the same as what Life Stories Australia professionals will provide you with. Many people are gifted storytellers, but not everyone can convey the true drama, humour and pathos of real life.
A life storyteller is like a dine-in restaurant with table service – you sit, you explain to a waiter what you would like from the menu with any dietary requirements, the meal is made, delivered and after you are finished, the plates are cleared away and washed.
Having an automated memoir service like StoryWorth is more like going to a fast-food outlet where you stand in line, order your meal using a QR code wait, take your tray to a table and then are expected to store your tray away and throw the rubbish away afterwards. It is okay for some people, but it is not for everyone.
A Life Stories Australia storyteller can craft a story – in video, audio or writing – in a way that speaks in a person’s voice without sounding forced or contrived. It can be edited in a way to make up for any deficiencies in a way a person writes so it reflects the way they speak or think.
Many a time, we hear people say, ‘The facts of the story are true but it was so much more than that.’ This is where a life story professional can help a person tease out their story – within the bounds of what they are happy to reveal – and give a full account of what happened. These could the joy at the birth of a child, the drama and elation at a successful business venture or the disappointment of a lost opportunity.
Life story professionals ask those additional questions that help fill in the gaps for the readers who will read this not only today but in years to come. Funnily enough, a person will often trust a friendly stranger with feelings and facts that they would feel uncomfortable telling their family face-to-face, because talking is interactive, more companionable. Online memoir programs don’t react to a person’s insights to ask more in-depth questions. For instance, noting what your favourite piece of music was when you were a teenager might not reveal the feelings you had whenever you heard it, why you liked it or prompt the memory of what happened when you went to hear the band live.
It’s your choice
There are, however, benefits in using online memoir programs. The StoryWorth price includes a hardback keepsake book of your life. LSA members may offer to find a printer for your story, may produce a paperback or hardback book and print as many copies as you like, may make a video, may give you a Word document or audio interview. There are more options for your end product but the costs may not be included.
The choice is yours. If you are a self-motivated person who’s prepared to write over the course of a year, who wants a basic memoir from prompt questions in a hardback keepsake book, programs like StoryWorth are a simple and cost-effective solution. If you would like your voice preserved, your ideas on topics of importance to you recorded, your feelings on situations and events, and the end product delivered in a few months, consider hiring a life story professional.