Humour

Memoir Writing

This 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.

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MemoirWriting-Humour

You might be describing terrible events, but somewhere in the memoir there needs to be humour – for your own sake as well as for the reader’s. Readers need a break from all the tension, and so do you.

Probably the time you’re most likely to laugh is when you’re looking back at the former you. This is one reason why you need detachment.

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It’s a feature of getting older. We look back more. That’s not surprising – we have more to look back to.

Today, Rosalind Adam tweeted: Today’s date is the old Police HQ number Whitehall 1.2.12.

It was something we often heard on the radio: “The police are looking for….If you know of her whereabouts, please contact your nearest police station or dial Whitehall 1212.”

Rosalind’s tweet triggered tweets about nostalgia and had me singing a song that’s popular here:

I couldn’t find a translation. I suppose that means I’ll have to do it myself.

I knew that you’d come
As the evening comes you lie in wait
And give me an old hug
Nostalgia

What we’ve forgotten, you’ll remind
Washing my memory with light
Taking me back
Nostalgia

To beautiful days
When we still had places to go to
We watched the sunset
We promised we wouldn’t change

But then time passed
And wanted it different
We look back and remember

I knew that you’d come
Exactly when no one is here
And stroke my hair
Nostalgia

Didn’t it used to be better
Or is it just the present
That looks so pale
Nostalgia

My folk dancing instructor, Boaz, created a lovely dance to this song, which is why I know it so well.

And talking of nostalgia, in one month from now, it will be exactly a decade since something very special happened to me. I want to celebrate it on my blog, but haven’t yet thought of a way to do it. Hopefully, I’ll think of something by then.

Remember the story of Lot’s wife? She was being taken, along with her family, away from her town of Sodom, which was about to be destroyed. They were told not to look back, but Lot’s wife did look back at the burning city and was turned into a pillar of salt.

If I mention something about my childhood, particularly about my experiences at school, someone is likely to say, “That was a long time ago. Now you have a family, friends, life is good. Best to move on.”

But that’s precisely what I did for a long time. As soon as I left school, I put it all behind me and didn’t look back. The result of that was that I had nothing to say. When others talked about their childhoods, I kept quiet. If specifically asked, I’d mumble something short and feel left out.

Now, I think that was the wrong thing to do. Our past is a part of us. If we block it out, we lose part of our personalities, of ourselves. So now I try to talk about it. I try not to listen to the voice that says, “They don’t want to know. They think you’re dwelling on the past. They think you should move on.”

Guess what? I haven’t turned into a pillar of salt. I’ve become a bit more of a real person. Talking is hard, but it’s also rewarding. And there’s always the hope that by talking I can help others, because I believe that the things that happened to me didn’t need to happen and don’t need to happen to anyone.

What do you think? Is looking back good or bad?