So, I’ve recently finished my second memoir. After my first book came out, I thought I’d never need to write another word about my own life. But inevitably, new events conspire to compel further story telling. I’ll keep you posted with teasers.

The truth is that the first book, Marzipan and Magnolias, was really an accidental memoir. Far from being planned, it just evolved from snippets of writing. It was a slow process because I didn’t know where I was heading with it – ie, I didn’t know I was writing a book.

At the time, a lot of things had gone wrong. My brain was like a drawer stuffed with too many phone recharging cables. I needed to unravel the cables to make sense of my life that had spun out of control. About the only thing I could do was sit for short periods at the computer and write bits – maybe a single scene or a piece of dialogue. My goal was simply to transfer overwhelming thoughts out of my head and onto the page. To my surprise, a narrative with a defined shape and story arc emerged.

            But publishing memoir is famously fraught. My family didn’t know I’d written it, and I wasn’t going to risk a falling-out for a book contract. This led to another revelation. Memoir is about recording and making sense of life experiences. Yet somehow the writing can become entwined with events yet to be lived, pointing to action that needs to be taken and conversations that need to be had.

After the book came out, I was sometimes asked if I’d been tempted to fictionalise it, but that would miss the whole point. It’s the very fact that events happened in the exact way they did that gives a story – even a quiet story – such punch.

One of my favourite quotes about life, which I apply to writing, comes from the documentary, History Of The Eagles. Paraphrasing some philosopher, guitarist Joe Walsh says, ‘As you live your life, it appears to be anarchy and chaos, random events, non-related events, smashing into each other…and it’s overwhelming…And later, when you look back at it, it looks like a finely crafted novel.’

To me, that encapsulates the mystery of memoir.

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