No, I wouldn’t read a ‘This is your Life’ type of book from cover to cover if it was my life. My past is a bore dotted with moments that make life worth living. I’m a daughter, a mother, a sister, a grandmother and a writer. All lovely experiences but I couldn’t imagine an unabridged version of my experiences making for interesting reading. And of course it would not be practical to read every aspect of a decades-old life. I’ve read various autobiographies of writers that I admire. I imagine someone edited a lot of their irrelevant and boring material out before publication.
Being in the senior category. I find myself shrinking and losing some hearing. My joints are wearing out, the varicose veins are popping and I find myself resisting bifocals. There was a time, once, when I wondered what wonderful things life held for me and never for a moment did I associate myself with the older people around me. When you’re young time is endless and possibilities manifold; old age is for other people.
I used to watch movies where old people aged gracefully (just a hint of grey at the temple and no wrinkles) and died quietly and peacefully in their sleep. That’s before we injected gritty realism into our films. Some movies were loosely, and I use the word advisedly, based on real people. The movies were so much more interesting that the real people involved wouldn’t have recognised themselves.
Hitchcock is quoted as having said that “drama is life with the boring bits left out”. He knew his stuff which is why most of his work doesn’t date. Every writer knows that the same can be said of any genre. We leave out the toilet breaks, the showers (unless they’re steamy or the shower scene in Psycho) and the trivial and the repetitive actions that life is made up of unless they are relevant to the story. If we kept everything in, nobody would want to read our stories, not even us.
Coincidentally, I saw a Mary Tyler Moore re-run this morning in which the newsman, Ted Baxter, was writing his life story minute by minute as it was happening. Believe me, watching grass grow would have been preferable.