Woollahra library book-creating workshop: Memoir

Woollahra library book-creating workshop: Memoir

26 September 2016 Life Writing Autiobiography Memoir

Woolahra library's inauguaral memoir book-creating workshop 14 September 2016.

The Woollahra library’s newly opened tech room was crowded to overflowing on Wednesday for an inaugural memoir-writing workshop using just launched book-creating technology called Bookform, created by Bellevue Hill local Carey Furze.

The lively crowd was made up of an extraordinary range of local residents, from a dozen different countries and various walks of life. Everyone had amazing life stories and knowledge they wanted to start documenting, for their children and grandchildren to enjoy for many generations – a family legacy book.

One man, Hassan Sagvand, originally from Iran came to Australia in the 80s as a skilled migrant, escaping the revolution and persecution in his home country. Once here he helped build the Sydney Harbour Tunnel and pioneered green technology systems. He built a successful import/export business with his wife and facilitated international trade markets for Australia. Now he is an award winning citizen who helps educate refugees on how to assimilate to Australian culture.

Eva Engel, also a migrant escaping the approaching war in Europe in the late 1930s, relocated with her family and has run counselling programs for holocaust survivors and Jewish youth for many years. Awarded a OAM in 2001 Eva is tireless in her pursuit of empowering people to have a voice and share their stories, now Carey is helping her share her phenomenal life experiences and knowledge by interviewing Eva and writing her book for her, using the Bookform book-creating software.

These are just a couple of the extraordinary people who have built Australia into the cultural and economical powerhouse it is today, and these are the life stories and knowledge we must capture, before it is lost forever.

The thought of using a computer and accessing software through a website was initially a little intimidating for some, but they soon all saw how easy it was to login and see the four templates available: Autobiography/Memoir, Travel, Health, and Collaboration.

“Once people see that computers are just a tool, like a telephone or car, they realise that it can make a very tedious job, like writing a book, very simple and affordable,” Carey Furze the founder of Bookform explained.

“I wanted to enable everyone, not just writers, to immortalise and share some of their life’s experience and knowledge in a book format, without it having to be a commercially viable published book (although some will become published I’m sure). And to overcome the main obstacles of creating a book, which are: how to start, how to stay motivated, and how to finish”. Carey said.

“There has been so much change in the world over the last 50-60 years, and grandchildren today would have no concept of the lifestyle, issues or highlights their grandparents have experienced in their lifetimes. Often, by the time kids are old enough to be interested in the people their parents or grandparent were, the person is long gone. This lost information is a tragedy, not only for families, but for the country as well, this is valuable historical information”, Carey said.

Carey has created a simple memoir-writing formula: Fact, Fill, Feel. Where a writer starts with a fact, perhaps the day they were born, or their children were born, or they had a life-changing event. Then, fill in some of the details around that fact, such as describing the place, the people, and what was going on generally. Finally, the feelings, perception and actions around this event, and before you know it, you have many pages of stories and your book is growing quickly.

The template questions are there to stimulate thoughts and memories and to guide anyone along their life-writing journey. Writing is like any muscle; the more you use it, the better it gets. The great thing about technology is that you can go back to edit, move, and add to anything you have written, at any time. Then, with one click all of your text and photos are collated into a print-ready digital book, with front cover, contents, sections, and chapters. Share the digital version by email or Facebook, or the PDF file can be saved on your computer and printed at home or sent to a professional printer to be hardbound as a family keepsake.

The collaborative book function can also help to build a book very quickly. Simply choose the collaborative book template, write your 5000-word introduction, and email invite up to 200 other people to contribute to your book, and a link is sent to them. They can write up to 2500 words and 4 photos, they click submit, and it appears in your book’s dashboard. You can edit, delete and change the order of all contributions.

Woollahra library has more book-creating workshops planned for various writing goals. Some people may want to collate all their ancestor research into a family book, or write about a fabulous holiday, or simply start documenting some life stories as a cognitive activity or memoir book. The options are infinite. Start creating your book today and rediscover how amazing you are.

Enquire at Woollahra library: http://www.woollahra.nsw.gov.au/library


Collate your stories
  • Q&A templates to guide
  • Voice-to-text instantly into your book
  • Collaborate to build a book together