by Karl Arnold Belser

Copyright 2006 by Karl Arnold Belser
Updated February 2009

Write a memoir. Live forever. Who cares? I didn’t, but my son Charlie did because he asked me to write about a few of my life experiences. The project grew until I had a memoir containing 45 stories.

I think that writing a memoir is an excellent way to get organized before one dies. It is also an effective way of deflecting one's mementos from the trash bin.
I scanned some of my mementos such as a student body card with my picture on it and a painting of my home in 1945 and used them as illustrations.

I received a surprising bonus in this effort. I learned things about my self. As Socrates said several thousand years ago, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” I found out what he meant and it’s hard to explain the value I felt in discovering why and how my life events occurred.

I confess that some of my original stories were so poorly written that my sister-in-law Mary Belser in New Zealand suggested that I take a writing class. I did and I studied and wrote for two years in a San Jose, CA municipal adult education class called “Fact and Fiction for Fun and Profit” taught by author Erna Holyer. The result was my book 
Memoirs of a Late 20th Century Engineer.

I didn’t want boxes of this memoir in my garage that would ultimately find a home in the garbage. I bought a double-sided Brother laser printer and made a few letter sized, black and white copies in a clear plastic notebook with a color cover page insert.

I really  wanted color printing but
I didn’t want to pay for it. Most of the photos and illustrations were in color.  The black and white books already cost $20 each not counting my labor. Hence I converted the Microsoft WORD document into a PDF (Portable Document Format) file using a free PDF distiller such as CutePDF or PrimoPDF.  I originally posted my memoir on the free web space provided by my Earthlink e-mail account.  I got my own web space at karl-belser.com in 2008.

Creating a website is somewhat tricky and you may need help. I read a web article titled How Web Pages Work on the How Stuff Works website that explains HTML  in detail and how to create web pages. Hand coding in HTML was, I felt, too difficult, but I now understood in principle how to create and fill in the HTML table that is the basis of my web page.

I now use a free WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) program called Kompozer to create the web pages and a free file transfer program (FTP) called Filezilla to move (or post) the pages from my computer to the server.  My memoir is posted on my personal web site along with other articles I have written. More detail on the creation and posting process are given in my article Creating and Editing Web Pages.

If the technicalities of this discussion intimidate you, there are many computer science types that will find setting up a website, scanning pictures, PDF distilling, and MP3 creation relatively simple. So get some help.

Take a look at my website and see if PDF publishing of family history might not work for you or your parents. It’s an effort of love, not money.

Last Updated March 1, 2009