Are you sitting comfortably?

Memoir WritingThis post is one of 26 I am writing for the A-Z Challenge on the subject of writing a memoir. I’m not an expert in writing memoirs, but I’m exploring the topic with thoughts about writing one, and am happy to share the fruits of my exploration.

And today a special “THANK YOU” to Arlee Bird who started this challenge.

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One of my first memories is of Daphne Oxenford saying, “Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.” These words, spoken at a quarter to two every day, always meant that I was about to hear another story on the radio programme, Listen With Mother.

To this day, if I happen to notice that it’s a quarter to two, I hum the signature tune of Listen With Mother, either to myself or out loud. My husband joins in.

This seems a good way to begin my series of A-Z posts about writing a memoir. What does my memory mean to you, my readers? Well, if you’re from the UK and old enough to remember Listen With Mother, you might feel as nostalgic as I do.

What if you’re not? Why would you be interested to hear about that piece of information?

The answer is, you probably wouldn’t be interested, as it stands. But what if I told you about the only story I remember out of all those I heard every day at a quarter to two? The story was about a dog who rushed home for his meal and burnt his tongue on the hot food, but then remembered being told to start at the edge because food at the edge is cooler. I remembered the story all these years because it taught me something.

“Okay, but that’s not so interesting to me,” you might say.

What if I told you my mother used to say, “Now you’ve listened to your programme, you must keep quiet and let me listen to mine.” And I tried to keep quiet for the whole hour of Woman’s Hour because I had listened to my fifteen minute-long programme. Only at that time I didn’t realise my mother’s statement wasn’t as fair as it sounded, because I didn’t have a good idea of time.

“That could be interesting,” you might say. “But only if it has some bearing on the theme of your memoir, or one of its topics.”

“How would that work out in practice?” I might ask.

“Well, say you wanted to show that your mother used to tell you things that weren’t really true for various reasons. Then you would give several examples of times when she did that.”

“Like telling me that they moved house just so that I could go to the school I was at?”

“Exactly.”

“That backfired big time.”

“Then write about it in your memoir.”

I will. And I’ll be returning to the topic of theme in other posts.

How about you? What are your first memories? Why would your readers want to know about them?

Are you sitting comfortably? We’ve begun.

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