Dear Globe and Mail reader,
Writing a Lives Lived essay about a family member or a close friend who has died is an emotional experience, but it can be very satisfying.
You share the story of the person as you knew them, and create a lasting record of who they really were, beyond their CV.
A Lives Lived essay is a mini-biography that makes readers feel they too have gotten to know the person a little, perhaps over a drink or two.
Unlike a formal obituary, which stresses external achievements, a Lives Lived essay paints an intimate portrait of a person, complete with light and shadows.
It doesn’t shy away from foibles and weaknesses, but includes them in the context of strengths and loveable qualities.
A couple of anecdotes that show us what the subject was like are better than a series of rose-tinted phrases.
The essay should contain a bit of basic information, such as education, marriages, children and career, but it’s even more important to tell us what the person was like.
Here are a few we felt were very successful:
What we need
Lives Lived are to be published within six months of the subject's death; a submission should be made at least three weeks before that six-month anniversary date.
If the material has been published anywhere else, in print or online, it will need to be rewritten for Lives Lived.
Please e-mail your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org in two forms: as a Word.doc attachment and pasted into the body of the e-mail in case we can’t open the attachment.
At the top of your essay, include an introductory line with three or four descriptive words about the person, for example "Mother, politician, tennis ace, diary-keeper,” plus the date and place of birth, the date and place of death, and the age and cause of death.
With your submission, attach a JPEG photograph that clearly shows the subject's face. A JPEG is best, and the resolution of the photo should be at least 300 dpi. Another way to put it is that the attachment should be a minimum of 100KB in size. A photo store can convert your snapshots into this format. Do not submit the photo embedded in the text of an e-mail; send it as an attachment to the e-mail.
Include a contact number where you can be reached during the day.
What to expect
When you e-mail your submission, you will get an auto-response confirming receipt. You will be only contacted if your essay is chosen for publication, usually within one month of receiving it.
Your essay will be edited for stylistic reasons and for length – it needs to be about 500 words.
The editor may also have questions or need to verify some information, and will contact you with these questions.
There is no payment to the writer when a Lives Lived is selected; neither is there a fee charged for publication, as there is with death notices.