Writing memoir

Writing Memoir doesn’t mean ‘tell all’

Writing memoir about living people does come with some rules and even warning signs.

We live in a litigious society and whilst people may tolerate family jokes about their quirks and rare moments of inappropriate behaviours, they may not like these instances immortalised in a family story album. Words on a page are unforgiving and a reader may set in their mind-stone facts that are incidental and not true to the person’s nature or life story.

Quirky behaviour
Quirky Behaviour makes you unique

Everyone has moments of indiscretion or behaviours outside of their true nature or perhaps their quirky nature is what makes them unique.  A former friend of mine filled his waking hours telling stories of other people’s odd behaviours and life moments, thus ensuring that person earned a reputation for being inappropriate or an odd-ball. This former friend eventually earned himself a poor reputation. Similarly, writing memoir from a disposition of negativity, anger or criticism can lead to your work being dismissed which is not what you intend. It can also leave you vulnerable to legal action.

Telling your Truth

Writing memoir is about telling your truth as you perceive it; however, a wise and responsible writer will firstly explore their perspective with insight and humanity. Writing memoir is often tempered by the unleashing of emotion whether it be anger, joy, grief or happiness. Making a distinction between the expression of words reflecting a focused writer connecting readers to the rich tapestry of their life and family history and the undisciplined drainage of harsh and critical negative views is the hallmark of a quality life story writer and memoirist.Continue Reading

Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.

people feel the rain
Some people feel the rain. Others just want to get wet.

Some people feel the rain is about life perspective and taking ownership of attitude. What a wonderful gift is within our grasp to make a difference to future generations. Telling the story of your life, your challenges and your conquests and weaving in your life lessons, your morals and ethical decision-making could just make the difference to a young great-great-grandchild.

Do you lead with your heart, enjoying the beauty in challenges and embracing life and every wonderful second of it?  Or are you allowing the wetness of the rain to accentuate your every little mistake and dampen your soul and spirit so your life choices reflect a coping attitude rather than a celebration?Continue Reading

Margaret Catchpole – a hero, a celebrity or just a woman?

Well I have finished my Margaret Catchpole memoir and totally enjoyed the efforts of Laurie Chater Forth.  Laurie and her team apparently conducted quite in-depth research to reveal a reasonable understanding of Margaret’s life. I learnt quite a deal not only about Margaret but about life for a female convict at that time, alone and with no rights as a woman or a life prisoner.

Being a writer of sorts, a nurse and a midwife and one whose life appears to be one of service, I identified with Margaret Catchpole in many respects. I doubt though that I have Margaret’s unresolved optimism and determination to continue to live a life of dedication and positive attitude, which I think she must have to achieve her popularity and good will of her community. Continue Reading

Is a Memoir all Fact?

When writing a memoir, the issue of fact or fiction must be addressed. It is an issue often discussed amongst memoirists and a fear born out of a deceiving one’s readers.

The issue came to mind recently when reading the novel written about Margaret Cathpole’s life as written by Reverend Richard Cobbold, the Rector of Worthham, Suffolk (http://hawkesburywriters.org.au/margaret-catchpole-her-life-and-her-letters/s).

People in the Hawkesbury did remember Margaret according to the Hawkesbury Writers website when she lived local to them. Their memories were very different to the Reverend Cobbold’s account of Margaret’s life.

The mind can play tricks and even with the best of intentions can replay events not quite as they were. I wrote an account of a memoir of my childhood to do with the opening of the Parkes Radio Telescope.  I then went about and researched the facts of the day and surprisingly many facts were not as I remembered. Of course, I was a child, and interpreted events through my own understanding.Continue Reading