Are you writing a memoir? If you are, have you tried to get it published, entered it for competitions, not been a winner or short-listed, gone back to it and rewritten it … and rewritten it … and rewritten it? And have you read some published memoirs and thought yours was just as good or better? Or perhaps you’ve dreamed of writing your memoir, but not been sure how to start, not felt confident you could make it come to life on paper.
Some people want to write their lives so they can pass it on to their children. My mother did this, at my request, when she was in her late 70s. Sadly, she didn’t finish. She filled about 2/3 of a fat exercise book with her delicate upright script, but she suffered several strokes which affected her right hand, and her memory, and the writing became more laboured, the words grew fatter, and it stops in mid-sentence. But it has given me many scenes and fragments I have written into my memoir, and it is a treasured family document.
In 1996, my eldest daughter begged me to write my life. She said that I was her writing mentor, but I hadn’t written anything! So I got an exercise book and started writing fragments. I still have it, and some of those fragments are in my memoir of childhood, which I have called The Smell of Rain. Fifteen years later, and many rewritings, I have finally some hope it will be published. I received an email today to say I have been shortlisted for the Finch Memoir Prize. Finch Publishing‘s motto is ‘books that change lives’. As well as memoir, they publish books on health, parenting, social ecology, relationships, social issues. The prize is $10,ooo and publication, to be announced late January 2012.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve rewritten my memoir, and of course, I could rewrite it again. Picasso said he never finished a painting, he just abandoned it. Well, I have abandoned my memoir, and though I will never be as famous as Picasso, I do hope it will be published and a few people will read it!
If you have a memoir unwritten, half-written, or rewritten, don’t abandon it too soon. And if you want to get it published, it deserves work. But most of all, don’t give up hope for it.