Jen’s Story

Jen’s Memoir Journey


The idea of writing a memoir is something I’ve picked up and put down on countless occasions over the past ten years. I’ve always known that I have something to say, perhaps a lesson to share, and yet for some reason the makings of this lesson remained locked away. 

Of course, I’d managed to write bits and pieces down here and there. I attended workshops hosted by the best memoir writers in America. With each attendance I hoped to unwrap the secret of memoir writing, and as I left each workshop, I left bewildered having discovered little more than the knowledge I arrived with. I would leave promising myself to stay committed, hoping that what I’d just heard would process in some magical way, and that I’d wake one morning knowing just what to do. This didn’t happen.  

Pages you may be interested in:

. 14 reasons why you should write a memoir for your family

10 ways to connect with your writing voice

. Is an online writing course right for you?

Memoir writing and creative writing 

I felt dis-heartened that even though I was showing up and committing myself to writing a memoir, that the real secret of memoir writing was still very much hidden from me, and this left a trail of doubt and uncertainty behind me. If I couldn’t unlock the memoir from my mind, then maybe that was a message in itself. I began to question, just like every other writer, whether I was worthy, if I did have value to share, and even if I could find it, would anyone be really interested, and would I be able to actually write it with the skill it takes to become an author? I could write poetry but who was I to think I could write a book? 

your memoir

As a homicide detective and in my own personal journey through life, I know I’ve seen more arresting scenes than most would come across in a lifetime.  That’s not to say that I wanted to share all of it. The hard part, for me, was identifying the pieces of value that I did wanted to share. And so, like most people in my shoes, this left question upon question about what direction my memoir needed to take. This led to chaos in trying to find a starting point resulting in the idea of writing a memoir being put down again. 

As a poet who expresses myself through words and connects to others through the words they share, I stumbled upon a voice that not only resonated in value for me, but in which gave me the value and worth back to mine. Within an instant of seeing what I’d written she instinctively saw something much greater, deeper, and captivating in the words I chose to use in poetry. As it turns out, Cheryl, creator of The Author Programme, inspired me to believe in myself – not because she was pushing a product or a service, but simply because she felt I needed to hear these words.  

I’m told that everything she created after our first encounter was based on me, and many others like me. That I stood for a group of unheard talented voices that just needed the right encouragement and the right ‘know-how’ to get from the idea phase (or no-idea how to start phase) to the finished manuscript. I saw myself as ordinary wrapped up in situations that I was able to write poetry about. Cheryl saw me as an extraordinary person with an immense potential to write from the heart, to own who I was, to let down my guard and allow the world to see who I am today. Seeing your words, your writing, through someone else’s eyes such as hers gives you new perspective.  

Just because it hadn’t happened yet, didn’t mean it never could. In fact, in her eyes, there was beauty and reason in the delay, in the doubt, in the fear of rejection. When things are delayed it’s because the timing isn’t right. I think I allowed ‘time’ to be a challenge in more ways than one, until I realised it was never about time. It was more about not understanding my journey, the value and what I was willing to share right now.  When and if I did discover this, would it be the magic moment that would wake me from my sleep, or would I be scratching around for the relatablility, value and worth? The cycle never ended. 

Some time after our first encounter, years possibly, Cheryl came to me with the promise of holding my hand, suggesting I let ‘time’ go and keep an open mind to the discoveries that lie within The Author Programme for memoir writers. After much consideration, and knowing that I trusted Cheryl, I took her by the hand and allowed her to lead me through the process of writing my memoir. Her patience, compassion, understanding is all born from how she relates to me, and others. There’s not much in life that she hasn’t touched by way of challenges, and this gives her immense understanding of how human behaviour and the psychology of our actions come into play. This is evident in the methodology written in the programme. 

creative writing techniques

Once inside The Author Programme I felt supported, and I had obviously committed to it wholeheartedly because I wanted to give it my best – and I don’t set out to do anything with less than. Though I was doubtful where my memoir would even begin or end, I discovered that I didn’t need to know any of that upfront. I needed to know what I wanted to write about, but I didn’t need to know the how, when etc of the timeline, the content or anything upfront. The programme drew this from me as I progressed through it. 

I read books that related to my voice, my story and the type of book i was drawn to. Memoirs from my bookshelf took a new form of life during my development through this programme. Here’s what my desk looked like and the books I chose to work with.

I’d love to be able to tell you the point in which the programme gave me the secret to writing a memoir. But I can’t. I guess it’s the same in how a magician can’t reveal her secrets. Was it magic or was it a carefully planned strategy to draw memoirs from people without them realising? Either way, one moment I was worrying that I had nothing to write about, and the next my printed manuscript was on my desk. The first draft of 40,000 words complete. I can’t begin to tell you what it feels like to finally know the direction of your story, to finally see the path clearly and to commit yourself wholeheartedly to getting it finished and then seeing all your effort in tangible value.  

It took me ten years to find the secret to writing a memoir, or you could say it took the ‘secret’ ten years to letting me into the magic that is knowing your story and understanding the value it has for others. The one thing I can share is this. If you’re trying to write with your head, stop now. The only true place you can start to write from is what’s in your heart. 

This isn’t the last you’ll be hearing from me, because I have so much more to say. But for now, I’ll leave you with the person that made my journey in memoir writing possible. Thank you, Cheryl.

With Love, Jen.

memoir writing