When she was in her mid-70s, Margaret Jeanine Condit Hastings did an amazing job of writing the story of her life and, when she presented “My Life” to her children in thick 3-ring binders, she thought the work was done. Her son Steve, however, had other ideas. Steve envisioned the notebook as more like a bound book that would be easy to read and that would be sturdy enough to last well into the future.
To make this happen, Steve engaged Wordsmith Associates to publish the work and, within a few months, he presented back to his mother (on her birthday) a handsome hardback volume of My Life: An American’s Journey, complete with the main story, numerous captioned photographs, family tree information, and the text of all the Christmas letters that Margaret wrote over many years.
When Margaret first started talking about writing an autobiography, her daughter Nina gave her a workbook called, Memories for My Loved Ones. It used a question-driven, fill-in-the-blank approach to developing a narrative, but it frustrated Margaret. She reported, “The story emerging was not the story I wanted to tell. So, I abandoned the ‘book’ and started my own.”
Given that Margaret’s writing was so well done, the value-add from Wordsmith Associates came mostly in organization and formatting. We did some light editing and, beyond that, we tightened up the organization, built a well-structured table of contents with consistent headings, added family photographs and ancestry data, created the cover and interior book design, prepared electronic publication files, and arranged for final print-on-demand publishing. The result is a publication that meets high-quality “top shelf” standards.
My Life: An American’s Journey comes with a companion volume, Experiences in Japan, and the original color versions of the Christmas letters are also separately bound. With a husband who served as a chaplain in the Air Force, Margaret and her family lived in Japan for a period of time in the mid-1950s. Experiences in Japan amplifies those experiences through reproducing letters that Margaret wrote to her parents and friends while overseas during that time.