‘COME AND SAY HI – YOUR MEMOIR EVENT’

On Monday, March 12th 2012, I’m holding two FREE drop-in sessions at the Horsebridge Arts and Community Centre in Whitstable, Kent (UK).

This is a lovely opportunity for you to pop by, say hello and ask me any questions about having your life story written from how the process works and the costs, to the time it takes and about the printing.

I set up www.yourmemoir.co.uk so that having a memoir is accessible to everyone, so here I am – accessible and willing to share cake, no less. Plus, if it’s a nice day this is a great opportunity to have a wander about on Whitstable beach and even pop to the harbour for some shellfish or hot, delicious chippies!

Your Memoir offers gift vouchers, so do come if you want to know more about giving the gift of a memoir to your parents or grandparents, perhaps for a special birthday or anniversary. So many people tell me they regret not having asked their relatives more about their lives before they died.

Remember, anyone can have a memoir written. You don’t have to had an extraordinarily dramatic life because your memories alone will be precious to the next generation. That said, if anyone does have a particularly interesting tale, I can present it to my literary agent for consideration and we can chat more about this process at the sessions. Plenty of people have already started writing their memoirs, and I also offer a reading and editing service.

I’ll be in workshop five on the top floor (there is a lift) between 10am until midday and then 6pm until 8pm. If you can’t make these times, let me know by calling 07710 721 389 or email marnie at yourmemoir dot co dot uk. I’ll be around all day and we can find a quiet spot to talk either in the Horsebridge cafe or elsewhere. Or I can meet you another day – no obligation.

I look forward to meeting you on Monday, March 12th. I’ll be offering my usual discounts to pensioners, Armed Forces personnel, people with disabilities and those in financial hardship as well as a special Meeting Marnie discount – regardless of whether or not you bring me cake or let me share the aforementioned chippies…

See you then! Marnie 🙂

P.S. I’m looking for opportunities to do free talks about Your Memoir, so if you know of an organisation that might consider this, please get in touch.

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‘MEMOIRS ARE FOR THE NOSEY, RIGHT?’

So, why do you read memoirs?

Is your own life so boring that you need to know what other people get up to?

Wouldn’t you be better off living your life rather than reading about someone else’s?

Of course not. Humans are curious by nature and are especially curious about what other humans get up to. You can read about other people’s lives and still have your own. But asking this question has led me to ponder how I choose the memoirs I read. Time is precious and I don’t want to waste my time on muppets. The Muppets maybe, but not muppets.

I can’t remember how I came to be interested in The Mitfords, an aristocratic English family of six daughters and one son. Possibly I read about about fashion icon and heiress Daphne Guinness, who is often referred to in her status as grandaughter of Diana Mitford and was lured to read more. The six Mitford sisters in whom I am mainly interested were, or are (one remains alive, Deborah or Debo, born in 1920) extraordinary. One sister married Sir Oswald Mosley, another was infatuated with Hitler and a third – Jessica, or Decca – was a socialist and ran away to the Spanish Civil War.

All of these very different choices require a great deal of conviction, I think. Confidence in one’s own decisions, regardless of the ethics and I think that’s what I find interesting about the Mitfords.

The memoir I have just read is called Hons and Rebels and is by Decca Mitford, the fifth sister (pictured above, courtesy of LeslieBrodybook.com). It’s very well-written, written as Decca speaks I imagine, and goes into great detail about the upbringing of the Mitford children with their parents Muv and Farve, their staff and governesses. It does answer some of the questions I had about how the Mitfords grew up to be so Mitford-esque. Mainly, I think that isolated boredom and aristocratic brains are a potent mix. The Mitfords, imaginative and curious, influenced by their desperation to escape Swinbrook and rattled by their combative father, went on to live hugely dramatic lives. Diana, Nancy (a novelist), Unity, Debo and Decca in particular. Their family motto could have been, ‘To hell with consequences’.

Of course there’s more to the Mitfords than I could ever understand or blog about. They were and are real people, not cartoon characters. Decca does a good job of painting them all sympathetically but honestly showing the devotion and division that existed between her and her siblings.

As well as because of their aristocratic poise (different from my own Whitstabubblian poise), their life in 20s and 30s England (a fascinating time) and startling life choices, I was drawn to the Mitfords and this memoir because their lives couldn’t be further from my own.

If you’re interested in Evolutionary Psychology – the science of how our behaviour is connected to our evolution – then you might know that curiosity is supposed to be linked to intelligence. The more curious we are, the more intelligent we become.

So it’s good to be curious. It’s good to read memoirs.

And it was great to learn a lot more about the Mitfords.

How do you choose who you read about? I’d love to know…

‘MOLESKINE – ICONIC WRITERS’ JOURNAL AND HOW TO WIN ONE’

Who doesn’t love a new notebook?

The promise, the anticipation, the questions…

What shall I write in it? My novel, my memoir, my poems, a list of my favourite shoes…

Will I keep it pristine or let time and passion dog-ear its corners?

Will I hide it in a drawer or shall I leave it proudly on the coffee table?

Will I choose something patterned, something plain or something I can customise?

I have a mixture of notebooks. Some are very beautiful and expensive, others are very beautiful and cheap – usually vintage ones that I have bought at flea markets. Many have been gifts and some I have scavenged from my husband’s side of the study. Some of my notebooks are nothing more than cheap exercise books. They sit in a pile on my shelf, waiting to be used, hoping to be useful.

I have several Moleskine journals. Traditionally Moleskines (used by Ernest Hemingway and Bruce Chatwin among others) are black, but mine are turquoise. I love colour. It was difficult to choose between the turquoise and red, but I live near the sea, so I went with the blue. My turquoise Moleskines are filled with quotes I have copied from the writers interviews in The Paris Review, a favourite one being Dorothy Parker:

“I hate almost all rich people but I think I’d be darling at it.”

And haiku I have written:

Tumbling black plastic

collides, entwines with swirling leaf

carefree both

To celebrate everything that’s thrilling about notebooks and Moleskines in particular, I am going to run a monthly competition to win a Moleskine journal. They’ll be different each month, sometimes large, sometimes small, sometimes black, sometimes something more juicy. All you have to do is go to the Your Memoir website here and sign up where it says Mailing List. On the last day of each month I’ll pick a single name at random from all those who have signed up and send that person the Moleskine of the Month.

But before you zip off to do that, tell me about the notebooks you have known and loved (and are currently lusting after) below…

I really enjoyed this blog by Brock Heasley and hope you do too…

Brock Heasley

Whenever I tell people I’ve written a memoir (not something I do with great regularity–it’s usually my wife who does the telling), I often get the question, “What is a Memoir?” I usually begin my response by saying that it’s an autobiography that isn’t an autobiography, but that only confuses them more. So let’s unpack this properly.

A memoir is a person’s written, first person account of their own life, or, more typically, a portion of their life. A memoir’s focus is usually narrow. Maybe it’s a coming-of-age story that focuses on the author’s youth like The Glass Castle or Growing Up Amish. Maybe it’s an account of the Mormon dating scene in New York or the author’s experiences working undercover for the ATF. Or, as in my case, it’s about dealing with the dual tragedies of death and growing up. Memoir usually picks a theme or…

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