Memoir nuts and bolts
So we have decided we have the time, and we are going to do this. Pen in hand, we sit at our PCs and we start writing.
People ask me, “How do you start writing memoir? I mean, how do you actually do it?” And the answer is, one word at a time. Yes, it sounds simple, but everything we do, all our endeavours, can be broken down into small steps, in which case, writing memoir begins with the decision to write, followed by that tap-tap at the PC which means we are busy.
I started writing memoir because I was forced to, in a way. It seemed to be the right time, and something was nudging me, saying, ‘I know you have hundreds of excuses but this is the right time, and no, there is nothing better you can be doing…’ Which got me thinking.
About what to write, of course, but also about the other reasons that might make me write: reasons to do with self expression, with the curative effects of being honest about stuff, perhaps for the first time in forty years…
Coming out from the emotional equivalent of a concrete shell after thirty-five years of being self effacing, is in fact so challenging, that it is only possible to write a little at a time. One chapter, one page, a sketch of one circumstance. But it is so valuable, that start. It is the beginning of a new way to self define, as a writer, as a person who is hopeful and courageous.
So take up the pen, switch on the PC and start anywhere. With one word, one line, one full stop. Once we take off the lid and allow ourselves permission, the next word will arrive, and the one after that.
Okay, so now is not the time to discourage any writer by saying, ‘It takes about a million words before we find our voices’ but really, life is about progress in small steps.