• Helen Gregory

A life much less ordinary

Visit any high street book shop and you’ll find shelves full of celebrity biographies - as well as dump bins with cut-price offerings in a bid to attract the book-buying public.

These celebrities are in no doubt that their lives are sufficiently interesting for shoppers to part with their hard-earned cash. From pop stars to actors, politicians to Big Brother house rejects, these writers fill hundreds of pages, often as a way of grabbing a few headlines if their books are sufficiently scandalous or revealing.

Writing your own life book however, is literally a different story. It isn’t about name-dropping, shocking people or describing outrageous adventures, it’s simply the story of your life, written for your own pleasure, and for those nearest and dearest to you.

Another book shop, another celebrity biography...

These books can reveal family secrets, share poignant intimacies and make readers who are acquainted with the writers laugh or cry. Yet so many ordinary lives remain unwritten, usually because people believe that their lives are just that – ordinary and not worth writing about.

One lady I met recently had once started writing about her childhood and the time she’d spent as an evacuee during the war, but she’d soon put it to one side, thinking that no one would be interested.

She was wrong. Recently, her young grandson was working on a school project about World War Two and asked about her experiences. He was fascinated to hear about her year spent with an elderly couple in Dorset, quizzing her about her clothes, what they grew and ate and the friends she’d made. This lady and her grandson spent a very happy afternoon together, talking and looking through photo albums, and she realised that perhaps her life was more interesting than she’d first thought.

Now, she’s written her life story and it’s ready for her other grandchildren – and great-grandchildren - to discover.