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Memoir: the new XBC writing competition
Introduced by Christopher North


Memoir could be thought of as the lighter version of Autobiography. Autobiographies try to tell the whole story of a life up to the day the author puts down his/her pen or shuts down the laptop – but a memoir is a fragment. And Memoir is a broad church. These fragments of a life can take many forms: the old-fashioned – ‘Jottings from an Active Life’, exotic travel such as ‘My year in Uttar Pradesh’, recollections of a childhood either idyllic or hellish, memories of a special friendship, a loss endured, a distinguished friend/brother/sister/father/mother/teacher, a confession (quite a few recently involving ex-President Trump) – and of course for a time the very popular misery memoirs of the 90s and early naughties. Memoirs sell far more than autobiographies; in 2020 there were 10 memoirs in the top 100 bestselling books in English and no autobiographies. There were 10 novels. (And incidentally there were 40 books for children under 10!).

I will talk about the various forms of memoir writing and storytelling, making recommendations of all the forms mentioned above. I will try a couple of exercises for those who’d like to play – so for those interested, do have a pen and paper handy. I’ll give some suggestions as to starting points, and finally I’ll introduce our Xabia Book Circle Summer Memoir Writing competition, open to all!

I will be including a couple of exercises - so for those interested, do have a pen and paper handy.

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