How to tell a Story from your life
If you weren't able to join my course as its the wrong time and date for you, or you don't live in London, never fear, I'm about to publish a 'how to' book on the subject, in a few weeks time.
Here's a preview - an extract
Chapter One What is memoir?
This is a big question and much discussed by writers, readers and the literati. Here’s a working definition – it’s a part of your life, not the whole life. The whole life is an autobiography. A memoir could cover two weeks, two months, two years or even five years of your life. Something happened to you in your chosen period of time that you want to write about. Something different, possibly something dramatic. May be it changed your life in some way.
As a memoir writer, I have often been told, ‘Why don’t you just tell your story as fiction – many writers do? You avoid lots of problems that way.’ Many writers decide it’s the only way to tell their story – they can anonymise it and change the story around and fictionalise the characters involved. That’s one option.
But I’ve always liked to read memoirs, because I enjoy reading stories that are ‘true’. Often they are breathtakingly extraordinary. When you’ve had something interesting, dramatic or extraordinary happen in your life, you want to tell the true story, put it on record. These stories are often better than fiction because you know they’re real. You may feel (as I do), that you have a duty to tell some of your stories – if only for historical reference for those born after many of the events. My first memoir - A Hippopotamus at the Table was set in 1970s South Africa, the apartheid era. What was it like to be there and observe that time? As an outsider? Those who read my book might find that out.
What other reasons are there to write memoir not fiction? Writing my own memoir gave me an insight into the many pitfalls and challenges of the genre.
If you want to buy my memoir A Hippopotamus At The Table it's on Amazon - click on the title to get the link.
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