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Instant Memoir by the Trunkload: Just Add Toast & A Cuppa


In 1990, Kenneth Branagh, the British actor, published his autobiography, titled BeginningAt the time, he endured quite a bit of ridicule because of his age.  He was 30 when the book was published. 

What worthy things did he have to say at such a tender age, critics asked?  How could anyone be so arrogant as to publish an autobiography, a memoir of any kind, before they were at least 70, or older? 

He was a toddler, a baby, an infant, for heaven’s sake.  Go away and grow up, they said.  Get some experience, squirt, get some age on you, get rid of the bum fluff, and then come and tell us a few things.  30?  Get real.

Recently, here in 2011, an announcement was made that Bristol Palin, daughter of Sarah, the former Governor of the state of Alaska in the US, would be publishing her memoir later this year.  Its title is yet to be made public.  Bristol is 20. 

There are a few things Bristol could write home about, if she wasn’t already at home.  She had a baby at 18, she’s been engaged to the same fellow twice, she came third on a TV show called Dancing With the Stars, her mother is a controversial political figure in America.

Twenty-one years after little Ken published his memoir, it’s par for the course to see ‘infants’ as it were, foetuses, some might say, publishing their contributions to the genre based on little more than dollops of fame and/or notoriety. 

The year before he published, Kenneth had directed and starred in the film, Henry V, which also earned him Oscar nominations for directing and acting.  Perhaps he felt the time was financially right to flog a book about himself.

Because it’s all about commerce, but you know that.  Publishers don’t invest unless they’re almost entirely certain of a positive return.  Justin Bieber is 16, and has already published his autobiography, First Step 2 Forever, and Miley Cyrus, 18, is the author of Miles to Go

They’ve had the good grace, like Kenneth, to emphasise in their titles the fact that they’re just starting out.  And they have, and will, sell trunkloads and truckloads of their instant memoirs because they’re celebrities for now, and their fans are easy marks.

Whether or not they’ll write follow-ups when they’re 70, or 25, is anyone’s guess.  In a year or two, they could be simply formerly fabulous as the next generation moves in and dusts off the microphones and dance floors and cranks up the gossip mills. 

So, my question to you, grasshoppers, is this: What’s stopping you from creating your own instant memoir?  You can read and write, you’ve probably been around the paddock a few more times than Justin and Miley and Bristol, even Kenneth.  You’ve got some wisdom and insight to fall back on, and you know and remember that Memoir = Life = Now.  They certainly know it.

And even if you haven’t been around for long, even if you’re 16, or 18, or 20, you’re living your life here on the third rock, too, only it isn’t happening in a fish bowl, luckily for you.

Pursue the moment, and see where it leads you. 

The next time you get that feeling that you need to remember this moment, this hour, this day, grab your writing implements, make a cuppa, burn some toast, and go with the flow.  Get it down.  Justin, Miley, Bristol, and Kenneth (now 51) are cheering you on.

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Creating Memoirs about Body Parts

No, this isn’t getting freaky.  I’ve been learning how to embed videos after I attended a blogging course at my local library this week, so I thought I’d try it out and venture into YouTube world again.

In July this year (2010), I participated, along with 80,000 others, in Ridley Scott and Kevin MacDonald’s project Life in a Day.  It’s designed to capture how people all over the world spent a particular day, in this case, July 24. 

So I grabbed my Handycam and made a few videos, one of which I’ve posted on this site, so you can see how easy it is to focus on something very specific, in this case my hands, and create a memoir about it.

Check it out by selecting the link on my header up there at the top of the page: Experimental Video Memoir.

More about specific focus memoirs in the next few posts, my friends.

A Moment in Time

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Here’s an example of a moment in time memoir.  I’ve successfully installed Windows Live Writer on my PC and I’m testing its efficacy.  It seems okay so far.  Windows Live Writer is an offline text editor useful for blogging when you’re not on the internet.  Seems like a good idea, so I’m trying it out right now.

Here’s a tip for bloggers: check out the information about Windows Live Writer and other text editors in Susan Gunelius’s Dummies book, Blogging All-in-one for Dummies.  I found it at my local library, and as I mentioned on Veranda Life it’s been very useful for me as a beginner.  There is so much to learn and the learning curve is very steep if you make it so.  That’s one of the reasons why I started 999 Verandakus: A Memoir of Now over at Veranda LifeI wanted a simple space and a simple place where I could pursue and demonstrate one way of creating and maintaining a memoir of the moment. 

999 Verandakus is my version of a memoir of my now moments.  You can do this, too.  You can choose any kind of succinct form of writing – perhaps you like haiku, or even my version of it, the Verandaku.  Check out the Verandaku page at Veranda Life for more details.

You could simply write a sentence whenever something worthwhile occurs to you during the day.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, or have a certain number of syllables.  In fact, some forms of haiku don’t worry about 17 syllables – their aim is to stay within, or up to 17 syllables.  So, you could have a haiku that consists of three lines and any number of syllables up to 17.  Brevity and insight are the aims – a reflection on the now that you’re experiencing that has meaning for you, and hopefully will be able to be interpreted by others, too. 

What’s important is your level of satisfaction with what you’re creating

It’s a small world or a big world, depending on your perspective, but either way, it can be overwhelming.  Decluttering your life, discovering your truth, and creating your legacy, can be worthy ways of cutting the overwhelming down to the right bite-size pieces that you can handle. 

Some time today, write a sentence about how you perceive that moment.  Is it a colour, is it a feeling, does one word come to mind?

Angst for the Memoiries is coming up – its moments are upon us.  Soon.  This post is a small and momentary inclusion/interruption from The Memoir Detective.