• Stephanie Hammond

Reflections on the 31 day challenge

So my 31 day 500 words a day challenge has come to an end. It’s been an amazing month of writing about snippets from my life. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about writing a memoir. My grandson said, “Oh, an autobiography?” When I said no, it was a memoir, he asked what was the difference. It was a light bulb moment for me. An autobiography would be a chronological record of my public as well as my private life, with all the milestones and things I’ve done and a commentary on what was happening in my world at the time. But that could be too boring to read - as well as to write. It would also be too personally revealing. There are many things I’ve done and experienced I wouldn’t want to be told - not yet anyway. And that probably sounds odd, given what I’ve shared over the past month. But I still want some people to still believe in the myth of me!

No, I want to write a memoir. I want to write about some of those experiences that have shaped me into who I am today. But what to base the memoir on? My overcoming fear? Certainly that’s common to the human condition. We all have fear of something or other to some extent or other. And I’ve certainly had success in pushing through those fears and coming out victorious.

Or do I write about what it’s been like for me, being a parent. Again, that’s a pretty universal topic and I’ve had lots of experiences centred around parenting my seven amazing children. But that could be embarrassing for them, and it could cause even wider rifts between us. Am I prepared to lose out there? I don’t think so. The photo is of my mother, my youngest daughter and her baby son. Certainly there are rewards writing about the joy this photo evokes in me.

Then there’s being a daughter, a wife, a friend, a traveller, a writer, a student, a neighbour, a town planner, a wannabe politician, an Aussie, a Kiwi, a global citizen. I could write about any of those, or all of them. Which brings me to other questions.

What would be the purpose of my memoir? Literary agent, Barbara Doyen answers this succinctly:

The author has questioned what happened and come to some kind of new understanding or lesson learned by it. The author shows us how … she was affected by this experience, how it has profoundly changed the way she sees the world. And by extension, reading the book will change the way the reader sees the world.

So who would read MY memoir? Who am I speaking to through my words? Thoughts to ponder going forward.

I’ve certainly enjoyed this 31 day challenge. I’ve enjoyed the 500 word length. It’s similar to what I was trained to write for politicians. Now I see that my personal thoughts can also be developed and delivered in a short piece that takes not very long to write (and read). 500 words a day (plus a few on most days) and I’ve written over 19,000 words during the last 31 days. That could be the length of a memoir.

I’ve decided it’s not an end to this writing for me. I’ve posted every one of my challenge writings to my blog and Facebook pages. I’ll continue blogging, maybe not every day, because it’s also time to organise my thoughts around my memoir.

And it’s also time to get back into writing my novel and children’s stories. I do love my writing life!

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