My life to date hasn’t left a stream of glittering gongs and accolades in its wake. So why on earth would I want to write about me? Why would I want to write a memoir? All I can say in my defence is that the life and times of Tessa Barrie might not make a riveting read, but the lives of some of the people in it would. So, as bizarre as it seems, my memoir is not all about me!
The thought of writing a memoir had never crossed my mind. In the past, I listened intently to memoirs written by members of my writers group. One member decided to defy convention and sail around the world with her children. Another lived in India for some years to learn the practice of Ayurveda, a form of traditional Indian medicine. Both amazing life experiences.
I did take three months out when I was twenty-one, spending time in California and Washington State. So it wasn’t a challenging circumnavigatory experience, as exciting as it was, because I was staying with friends.
Twenty years later, I took another three months off to contemplate my navel in the Portuguese sunshine. This time, I stayed in a friend’s fantastic apartment in Vale do Lobo, rather than sleeping in a tent at Peneda-Gerês National Park. Camping has never been my thing. As a child, the idea of ‘staying over’ at pony club camp, never particularly excited me. But, during my Portuguese sabbatical, I managed to drive from Jersey, through France and Spain to Portugal and back again. I got lost umpteen times, which only added to the enjoyment of that memorable furlough.
Over the last few years, I’ve been writing the occasional blog under the sub-heading of My Life to Date and How I’ve Survived It. There are parts of my life I try not to revisit. You know those dismal periods you try and disassociate yourself from, but they have a nasty habit of coming back to haunt you. So, it’s good to have an emotional release, such as a punchbag, to vent your frustrations. In my case, I choose to write about them and, after sweetening them up with a drizzle of humour, it has proved remarkably therapeutic.
In 2015, I started writing my first novel, Just Say It! Around draft number five, I’d began editing large chunks of it out. Okay, not unusual during the editing process, but I realised my MC, Lisa Grant, had morphed into me. There is still one blatantly autobiographical segment that remains in Just Say It!, but, hey, the truth is stranger than fiction, isn’t that what they say?
The truth is, I never made a conscious decision to start writing about my life, it just happened. During Lockdown, cocooned in my little self-isolation bubble, I was repeatedly engulfed by waves of nostalgia. It prompted me to start digging out those old posts about my life, squibs, as I like to call them now. Then I started slotting them into the outtakes from Just Say It! and was surprised to find how well they fitted together and, as memoirs go, I realised I had the first draft of mine.
Soooo, I will be writing this account of my life to date as a fly on the wall. Serving up my observations up with a slither of satire and a touch of farce, which makes writing it more palatable and hopefully, from the reader’s perspective, more appetising.