You can read the title of this blog in at least two ways:
- with lives as a verb, I am saying that writing is a living art, which survives all the changes in civilisation, since it was first invented as marks scratched on pieces of stone. Now we are into e-books and apps, a world I’ve only dabbled my toes in. I’m a print baby, and will die a print elder, but I am about to introduce e-books and readers onto my online bookstore (bookhaven.net), which is still in construction. I am also considering publishing my memoir of childhood as an e-book, because getting published in print these days is close enough to impossible if you haven’t got a name that is known, or get lucky.
- with lives as a noun, I am flagging that my special interest — no, my passion — is writing life … my life, your life, his life, her life, their lives; and reading about other people’s lives. So this is what this blog is about. If you want to write your life, but don’t know where to start, or if you are already are writing your life, this blog will share some ideas and create a forum where you can post comments and link to other friendly sites.
So who am I? And what gives me licence to invite you to join my group?
I have always loved writing, and been told I could write well. But it was only about 12 years ago that I decided to start writing my life. I had had a very difficult life, and at a certain age found myself without a career or a fortune, wondering where to go next. That was when I decided to go back to uni and write my story. So I did a Master of Creative Arts degree, and after that I did a PhD in life writing, blending memoir and theory to rewrite desire from a feminine point of view. And when I say desire, I mean more than sexual desire: I mean desire for freedom, for self-expression, for community, for life itself.
I am a hybrid, an amphibian happily swimming in the waters of theory and of creative writing. But this blog is not about theory. It’s about practical, embodied writing, down-to-earth writing that expresses the self and reaches out to others.
I write book reviews for a couple of national newspapers, and I edit other people’s writing, as well as doing my own. On this site, I’ll post my latest thoughts about life writing, and share what books I’m reading.
So here are some questions for you:
- do you want to write your life, or someone else’s?
- have you made a start? How is it going?
- if you haven’t, would you like some suggestions?
- what are the best books you have read recently?
I look forward to your comments!
What I’m reading this week:
Graveminder by Melissa Marr
An improbable story in which the dead inhabit an underworld, rather like a 19th century American frontier town, and those who haven’t been properly buried return to haunt and — you’ve guessed it — feed on the living. Mostly it’s told from the point of view of the living, who have the usual attachments, losses and desires. It is well written, over the top, and keeps you guessing.
The Ghost Road by Pat Barker.
Barker won the 1995 Booker prize for this superb story of officers in the British army, psychologically damaged by their experiences in the First World War, being treated by the army psychiatrist Rivers. Three very different men have their secrets, which are gradually revealed as their lives entangle and fall apart.