So you would like to see your name in print? Many people ask me how to write a publishable memoir. This question always
reminds me of Rod Haynes. Rod and I emailed a few times, regarding his book Rogues Island Memoir. I can’t say
that I helped him much, I believe he had completed the book by the time he met me.
But I was delighted to speak to someone who had published their memoir. Perhaps for another article we will interview Rod.
Rod chose to write about a certain period of his life - his childhood years growing up in the turbulent sixties and
living with a sister who would eventually succumb to Cystic Fibrosis.
This is the way to seeing your work published. A published book has a central theme running through it, as in Frank
McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes. So your job is to choose a slice of your life to write about.
Ask yourself "What is the one event that shaped my life?".
Did someone in your family die? Did your parents divorce? Did a best friend come into your life and change the way
you looked at the world (think about the movie "My Girl"). Did a natural disaster or war have an impact on your life?
These are but a few of the challenges you may have faced, I am sure you can think of more.
Make a list of the core events in your life. Start with your birth (did something extraordinary happen
when you were born?) and then move on through your childhood, young adult years, middle age, etc. You will end up with a list
of five to ten items of events.
From those events, can you choose one that impacted your life? For Rod there were several events that came together
at one period of his life and changed his life forever. And there is the central theme - life change.
When you have isolated an event, look at it from all angles and write down its key points.
How old were you?
What was happening in the world at that time?
What was the value or moral
code that existed at that time and how did effect the event?
How did all of these factors come together to create your
Now that you have an event picked out, tell us about it. Don’t think about publishing it. Just
pretend your children or grandchildren are gathered at your feet and you are going to tell them a story.
Once upon a time I…
Just tell the story. And don’t forget to tell me about it!!