This book was first published at the end of 2017. It's now in its third edition. I'd written one memoir and then taught memoir writing for a few years to small local groups. My teaching experience has been in various settings and subjects, starting with teaching the history of Ancient Egypt for a while in Adult and Higher Education (my degree was in Ancient and Near Eastern History at University College London). I'd been to Egypt many times - employed by Hayes and Jarvis to give talks about Ancient Egyptian history to British tourists on Agatha Christie-type paddle steamer boats (now petrol-powered) as we travelled down the Nile from Luxor to Aswan. I'd taught the same subject to undergraduates for a while at Birkbeck. Here's a bit of a flavour of Egypt -
Before Sunrise in the East
Oh - la - a -a - a
- rudely awakened at godforsaken 5 am
- I smell the dust and heat and remember where I am.
- The muhaddin call electronically loud
- all over the city, from the loud speakers
- at the top of the mosques,
- strategically placed trumpets
- blaring criss-cross over the hot misty city
- calling to arms Allah's army of worshippers
- "get up, fall to your knees
- face Mecca and pray".
- And I, in my godless western sloth,
- turn over and pull
- my pillows over my head
But that was not the sum of my teaching background, due to discovering in the eighties that I had an aptitude for this new technology - computers! Me and my husband had gone for broke to get our soon-to-be teenage daughter an Amstrad (a Xmas present bought with a credit card. Thanks to Alan Sugar we started to have affordable computers in our own homes).
My aptitude for computers - which had been developed as an Exams Administrator at the Polytechnic of North London, eventually led to my teaching Info Tech to undergraduates when the Poly became London Metropolitan University - teaching HTML, how to create databases, using spreadsheets and word processing. In those days most people didn't know how to turn a computer (PC) on, let alone type something, save and file it.
In the mid-90s, a friend - Glynis taught at Holloway Prison. An IT teaching post came up there - after a few month's trial I was teaching there 5 days a week, plus teaching Egyptology evening classes at the Working Mens College or City University or Birkbeck University. I had 2 kids by then and an actor husband who was in and out of work. So we relied on my steady income.
I'm rather breaking my own rules on memoir writing so far. This is giving you not so much memoir as a potted background history to show why I wrote this book.
During the pandemic, I employed a guy to market my (then) two books and Writing Memoir sold rather well in America and Canada using Amazon Ads. For a while, it was selling 150 books per month. This, however barely covered the cost of my marketing guy's fees and the Amazon Ads fees.. I made a small profit. But what happened was, the book started to stack up reviews and now has nearly 200 reviews, around 75% were 5* (8 to go - so please, if you buy my book, leave a review ... let's make it to 200) So many people have told me it has taught them how to start writing memoir because now they can see how to.
So what is 'memoir' also called 'creative non-fiction' - well it is NOT autobiography. I'll tell you this much only - it's a story from your life. If you want to know more - well you'll have to read my book.
What it is NOT though is a boring list of facts about your life, strung together for your grandchildren, Writing a decent memoir is like writing a novel, except it's a true story. It should be a page-turner, it should have dialogue, description and scenes to bring it to life. If you want to know more, firstly read the following feedback I recently discovered on my blog - someone called Dee (not my cousin Dee), I'm guessing this Dee is from America, she sent me this - and then if you are thinking of writing a story from your life - BUY THE BOOK ON AMAZON. Be sure to leave a review. Reviews sell books.
Here's that review from Dee in America-
Hello Anna, I just wanted to drop a hello and say that I'm currently reading your book, Writing Memoir, How to Write A Story from Your Life. It has helped me a lot, for it gets to the point, no goings on about this and that, like some do. I like the chapter on, Your Voice the Narrator, and your advice to read other authors' memoirs to check out their writing style for it all adds up to becoming the voice. The key questions you provide, to ask myself, helped me to understand that finding my voice doesn't have to be some big unusual, interesting, or not, revelation. Finding my voice is right in front of the mirror, everything I'm made of, believe in, morals, values, the way I talk, my emotions, thoughts. The other important thing, is to read other authors, even find some favourites, do some research, but mostly, just get to it, write, write, write.
Your book led me to read William Zinsser's books, On Writing Well and Inventing the Truth the Art & Craft of Memoir. Which are 2 excellent books.
Overall your book may be small but it packs a big punch! I'm writing my first memoir, I have written so far, 3 individual stories I remember from a youngster, and am finding titles for them, tacking them to my mind mapping board, that you recommended, it works fantastic by the way. Gives me the chance to put my story ideas in front of me and clear my mind for new stuff to come through.
That's one of quite a few really nice reviews people have given to this book.
So here's the link to the Amazon website if you want to buy the book - either as an e-book or a paperback.
And my first memoir -
The second memoir - Beyond the Bounds - is waiting to be published.