The first thing I wanted to say, I've now done 2 podcasts on Writing Memoir and the book is selling well in America and Canada, with now over 100 mostly 5-star reviews on Amazon. Here's the link - Writing Memoir. How to Write a Story from your Life.
Moving on ....
Why did I call this month's blog 'End Game'? Because after months of prevaricating - the last 3-6 months of lockdown seemed to result in a kind of stalemate in terms of my writing - I'm a cafe/library writer normally. Finally, last Sunday, sitting in my local cafe/bar outside (at last!), I finished the last chapter of my book and wrote the immortal words -
Oh joy! How did I get there? I hired a mentor who gave me a deadline that's how. I so write well to deadlines. I so needed her push or should I say boot up the backside. What was stopping me? Well, this is memoir writing we're talking about here. Don't you know the words of Maya Angelou?
'There's no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.'
Thank you, Maya. Precisely. She talks frequently about the agony of writing stories from your life. And when you get to the painful memories, the painful sequence of events and you have to write about them - well, you put it off, and put it off, and put it off. And (as I say in the book 'Writing Memoir'), DON'T EVER tell me writing about trauma is therapeutic. Not for me it's not, it's just plain PTSD, forcing you to relive a painful period or event in your life which you never wanted to think about again and I've got a few of those I can tell you. Why am I on my second memoir? And could easily write a third and fourth too. Masochism. Compulsion...
Anyway - I started to tell you about writing The End - the relief and the joy of it. Yes, I've done it. I've finally got there. 4-5 years to get to this point - I started this book in 2015 after the launch and publication of my first memoir - A Hippopotamus at the Table. Please don't think this is the finished product and that any writer who gets to this point can now relax. Hollow laugh. Now comes the editing and re-writing of large sections. My first memoir was re-read about 50+ times, I was so sick of it. I could still correct and re-edit it, but I was offered an Arise TV interview about it so I had to publish by their deadline ...
Anyway thought I'd give you a little taster - anyone who's interested can be added to my pre-orders list - email me at email@example.com. I'm hoping to publish around September if I go the Indie route again. This time though, I think it's a story that mainstream media might want to publish. We shall see. My previous book, written by a white person about the segregated world under apartheid - no no no. At the time publishers were only interested in black writers (their voices suppressed for so long, needed to be heard) and Nelson Mandela had died 2 years previously.
This story starts with a phone message on an answerphone -
BEYOND THE BOUNDS
Chapter 1 A telephone call
4th July 2003
I closed the front door behind me and walked up the stairs to the door of my flat. I was carrying two shopping bags and my work rucksack. The keys were in my mouth. I swapped the shopping to my left hand, my fingers cramping with the weight, took the key out of my mouth with my right hand, unlocked the door and kicked it open. I walked straight ahead into the kitchen, past the bathroom on my right. The kitchen was a good size for a London apartment, with bay windows overlooking a row of gardens down below. I dumped all the bags on the kitchen table. Phew! I glanced over at the phone in an alcove by the door. The red light was flashing. I remember the moment so well -- that red light signalled the beginning of a series of events that would change my life. I'll come back to that.
* * *
There's laws in this country, I hear you say -- yeah right, if you're a UK citizen with a British passport there’s laws. For immigrants and asylum seekers with no official status? Figure it out! Do they start arguing about their rights? I think not. After phoning me in some distress, he'd come on the bus (the way all refugees and asylum seekers travel -- it's cheaper). By the time he arrived, I’d decided what to do and organised a few things.
to be continued ...
PS. The first chapter of the book, of which this is a small section received a 'Highly Commended certificate in the Winchester Writers Festival Memoir competition - that was a few years ago.