If you’re interested in writing memoir and want to start exploring different areas of your life, check out this prompt I’ve come up with.
Write about your parents’ jobs (or even lack thereof, if that’s the case). How did their work affect you? Were they blue collar/white collar? Did their jobs involve long hours that took them away from home? Were you proud of the work they did? Were you embarrassed? Did their jobs offer financial security and a comfortable way of life? Or did the family struggle financially? What did you learn about life by observing your parents at work?
I basically ended up writing an entire memoir about my dad’s job as a gravedigger.
If you end up further exploring the concept of work in your life, I recommend these fantastic books:
Working by Studs Terkel
Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams by Alfred Lubrano
Amy Kortuem said:
I want to buy Studs Terkel’s book simply because his name is Studs Terkel.
Anyway – I was thinking about this very topic last night. I’m reading Kati Marton’s new memoir (Paris, A Love Story) and her parents were journalists during the Hungarian revolution. So when Kati set out to be a foreign correspondence, her parents were like: “Be sure to write, we’ll watch you on TV.”
My parents (a child care advocate and business manager at a scaffolding rental place) would have been like: “WHAAAAAAAT????????”
I think our parents’ jobs influence us more than we may think. They don’t necessarily influence our choice in work, but they affect the way we look at the world. I’d like to know what you observed with the child advocate job.
You must get Studs’ book! It’s so good. The best thing I like about it is that it’s a bunch of vignettes, and some are really short, like a page. He even interviews a gravedigger.
I wrote about my dads work and work ethic in my memoir because it ended up being critical to my story; without these qualities I doubt he ever would have built an airplane from scratch! Great prompt 🙂
Sarah, it’s neat that you’ve already written about your dad’s work! I’m very curious how he built an airplane from scratch–wow!
I also got a great work ethic from my parents. That is probably a separate essay I could write.
Tracy Lee Karner said:
Good prompt. I’ve always admired Studs Terkel, but somehow missed this book. Adding it to my “must read” list.
Yes, you must read this one! Like I told Amy, it’s a fast read because some of the stories are really short. You can skip around, too–if I remember correctly, he organized it by type of work.
Tracy Lee Karner said:
I’ve got it on order!