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Every Memoir Is Also A Story – Memoir Writing Day with Elizabeth Speller **...

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The Cambridge Writing Retreat

Avenue Farmhouse

33 Smith Street

Elsworth

CB23 4HY

United Kingdom

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There are myriad reasons why we write memoirs and slightly different ones why we might buy and read them. Individual writers might simply want to record a story of their life for children and grandchildren or they might want to create something that's potentially commercial. You might feel, like almost anyone born in the first half of the twentieth century, that you've lived through uniquely interesting and challenging times and were there at the making of history, or you might be a millennial telling it as it feels to be young right now. You don't have to be at the farther end your life to write a brilliant, evocative piece of memoir. Others want to explore an event: a massive life change; an adventure; a personal crisis, attachment to a place; a serious illness; a love of an animal, travel, music, food.

The death of elderly relatives can reveal a cache of mementoes and it's quite possible for a memoir to be about a family, rather than an individual. In fact, historically, older memoirs often start way before the life of the author, putting lives in context and thinking why we are, as well as what we've seen and experienced. Some memoirs set out to tell everything, and literary memoirs often choose one theme and leave a lot of other material out.

So, on a day of memoir writing, we will look at a range of possibilities and discussing techniques to ensure the telling of lives is as interesting and as real to readers as it feels as we live it. We'll discuss questions like:

How can I write the truth? My family will hate me.

What do I do if I don’t remember exactly what happened?

What about family myths and anecdotes?

Nothing really interesting happened in my life.

How do you fill in the gaps?

You could be just planning to set out, or already have a work in progress. You may be surprised at what emerges in discussion, but it's one genre that really takes off in a group. We'll talk, get to know each other and our hopes, think about the skills we have, or don't have, and, of course, write!

If you are interested in the Memoir writing day run by Elizabeth Speller, you could look at any of the titles below, although this is far from essential. These are some very different ways authors have approached the task of memoir writing: John Burnside writes his memoir based around different songs, mostly pop songs, which set the changing period. In each chapter of Miranda Doyle's The Book of Untruths, she examines, with some humour, the small (or big) fictions of family, school life, and love. Edmund de Waal writes brilliantly about a family possession passing down the generations of his Jewish family. Peter Stothard looks back on his university love and dreams, while on a wonderful journey to Egypt after a cancer scare in middle age. Jeremy Harding is very funny, but also poignant, when, as an adopted child, he sets out to find his birth parents and ends up coming to terms with two not very satisfactory mothers.

Burnside, John - I Put a Spell on You

Sage, Lorna - Bad Blood

de Waal, - The Hare with Amber Eyes,

Doyle, Miranda - A Book of Untruths

Harding, Thomas, - The House by the Lake

Harding, Jeremy, - Mother Country

Speller, Elizabeth, - The Sunlight on the Garden,

Stothard, Peter, - The Last Nights of Cleopatra

Anonymous, - A Woman in Berlin

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Date and Time

Location

The Cambridge Writing Retreat

Avenue Farmhouse

33 Smith Street

Elsworth

CB23 4HY

United Kingdom

View Map

Refund Policy

No Refunds

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