A-Z ChallengeYes, it’s finally time to reveal my theme for the A-Z Challenge this year.

In 2011, I didn’t have a theme. I posted mainly on the themes of this blog: writing and social anxiety.

In 2012, I wrote about places in Jerusalem.

In 2013, my theme was memoir writing. I learned a lot that year. One day, I might put that knowledge to use.

In 2014, I highlighted authors, including some of my new friends all published by Crooked Cat.

In 2015, ….

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Writing Historical Fiction

I will publish 26 posts on the theme of writing historical fiction. I’ve never written historical fiction and don’t know much about it, so I’m hoping all you experts out there will help me by adding comments to my posts. I’m really excited to be doing this and I do have a little idea about where this might lead.

And…

Happy Birthday!

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This blog is six years old today.

This was my first post:

Speech is silver. Silence is…

…not golden. Just a fake gold that soon dulls.  Like the necklace I bought in Cyprus. They told me it was gold. I knew they were lying, but I bought it anyway. I felt I had to buy something because they gave me tea….

I’ve been keeping silent for most of my life. It’s time to talk.

So tune in again, keep in touch and don’t suffer in silence.

So much has happened since then. Thank you for being part of it.

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Title, Topic, Theme and Takeaways

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-Theme

If you’re famous, think no further. Anything you write about your life will interest your readers, who are probably also your fans. The topic of your memoir is you.

But most memoir writers are not famous. People won’t read your memoir because they’re interested in the life behind the author. They’ll read it because they’re interested in the topic of the memoir, whether because they’ve had similar experiences, or know others who have, or are simply interested to read about how you coped with what life threw at you.

So you need to have a theme, or several themes. You need to know the messages you want to tell your readers. And then, as you write, you have to stay focused on those themes. Don’t wander off into unrelated memories, however humorous or sad or heart-warming they are. Everything in your memoir must be related to your topic. Every scene should add to the thoughts you want your readers to take away.

Note: I love to read your comments, especially when they’re attached to the right post. Please remember the Comment link is at the top of this post.

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.