Memoirs are made of these

By Sue Trollip

Where would you begin your memoirs? The crux, in my opinion, is to find that key moment and write it in a way that sets the tone of the story.

In The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes Willie Nelson begins: ‘They say writing the first line of a book is the hardest part.’

This is no lie and I’m guessing Willie battled to find a launching pad for his life. I’m assuming he’s had many ground breaking moments just like the rest of us. Drew Barrymore, who began drinking at 9, smoking weed at 10 and snorting cocaine at 12, begins her story with the filming of ET.

There’s the humorous approach like Jarod Kintz’s: ‘From the ages of 8-18, me and my family moved around a lot. Mostly we would just stretch, but occasionally one of us would actually get up to go to the fridge.’

Or more poignant is that of Anne Robinson’s: ‘Fifteen years after a mother has left the earth there is a grown-up daughter standing in a shop, saying petulantly to a saleswoman, ‘I know it looks nice — but I don’t wear purple.’

One of the most famous lines in biographies comes from Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke’s novel Out of Africa:

‘I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Equator runs across these highlands, a hundred miles to the North, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. In the day-time you felt that you had got high up, near to the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold.’

Perhaps a better way to start would be to task yourself with this: If you could put 10 photographs in the photo album of your life, which 10 would you choose? Then pick one and begin your story from there.

Relax! I don’t want to write my memoirs and bore all who skim through it, not yet anyway. I’ve simply been thinking about life and her pivotal moments.

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