The thought of writing a memoir had never crossed my mind. I’ve listened intently as members of my writers’ group read from their life writings. One member decided to defy convention and sail around the world with her children. Another lived in India for years to learn the practice of Ayurveda, a form of traditional Indian medicine. Both amazing life experiences. Consciously thinking about writing about my life experiences might not have occurred to me but, the fact was, I’d been doing it for years.
I’m not someone who has left glittering gongs in my wake, nor have I led an intrepid or inspiring life. I don’t plan to blame my parents for my ineptitudes and failures. I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent person, although some might say, I’m delightfully vague. Either way, I’ve always been quite capable of cocking up my own life, without parental intervention or outside influence. So, as bizarre as it seems, my memoir is not all about me!
I haven’t exactly trailblazed my way through life, so why do I feel the need to write about how I’ve survived my life to date? It’s because of the people whose lives have touched mine. The people who coped with all manner of adversity and not only survived but excelled. This is my fly on the wall account of a select group of people who, I am proud to say, have made me who I am.
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 surprisingly therapeutic.
In 2015, I started writing my first novel, Just Say It!, under my alter ego/pen name, Tessa Barrie. Around draft number five, I’d began editing large chunks of it out. Okay, not unusual during the editing process, but I realised the MC, the Lisa Grant, was morphing 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?
I might not have 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. Which prompted me to start digging out those old posts about my life, squibs, as I like to call them now. 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.
My Life to Date and How I’ve Survived It, will be a fly on the wall documentary of my life to date, served up with a slither of satire and a touch of farce, which makes writing it17 more palatable and hopefully, from the reader’s perspective, more appetising.