According to American author Marian Roach Smith's definition, "Memoirs are selections from your life story, shaped by theme, driven by a few burning questions.  So the question the reader brings is: why these bits of your life? The answer to that question will lead you to your opening." See her website for more gems about this genre that I love to read and strive to write well. One part of my life that  I enjoyed was the post-adolescent period of adventure, spent in Paris, France, and travelling throughout Europe and into the USSR during the "Cold War" years. However it was the Inner Journeying that I had to set out on after I returned to Australia that forms the important part of my memoir. I now wonder if these two journeys are too much to include in one memoir?

The Inner Journey

I had, for a long while, been addicted to self development. It was like peeling onion layers; more were always waiting for you to deal with. But I was determined to recover from the effects of crippling emotional baggage I'd carried since childhood. I’d felt an outsider most of my life, especially at school, even though there were times when I was popular. I rarely felt happy inside, even though I had a smile on my face much of the time. It started in early childhood. I wasn’t as bright as my older brother and younger sister; I wasn’t as pretty as my two younger sisters. Mum didn't actually say the words, but when she talked, and she talked a lot,  I read between the lines: 'He's a genius... she's pretty...' etc etc. There was more to it than that, there always is...  But I grew up believing I was unworthy: stupid, ugly. It was all untrue and  I couldn't shake it off as I grew. I believed it at my core. The change in me started around the time leading up to, and immediately after, my father’s stroke. It would take a long time, and much inner work on my part, to rid me of the bad feelings I carried about myself.

Are you afraid of Death?

When I was sixteen, a boyfriend said during one of our many debates on the existence or not of God: "What if we decide not to believe, and wake up one day to realise we were wrong all along. Maybe we should hedge our bets just in case." I tried to do that, but I was the original "Doubting Thomas". I went through periods of believing in a higher being; then sometimes my belief would evaporate like the morning dew, just as quickly as it had appeared. Now I realise that "the truth" might be outside of our limited human understanding. I like the introduction to the following trailer, but would take issue with it as it progresses. The conclusions are very depressing. It speaks to the head, and not to the heart, as it draws to its dark conclusions. It is not recommended that you watch the complete video, unless, of course, that you agree with its premises.

[caption id="attachment_11651" align="alignleft" width="212"] An Early American Feminist[/caption] [caption id="attachment_11644" align="alignleft" width="220"] An Early English Feminist[/caption] [caption id="attachment_11643" align="alignnone" width="186"] An Australian Feminist[/caption] THE SECOND WAVE OF FEMINISM: THE SEVENTIES: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

[caption id="attachment_11679" align="alignright" width="200"]this-house-of-grief This House of Grief[/caption] [caption id="attachment_11678" align="alignright" width="211"]the-first-stone-cover-1995 The First Stone 1995[/caption] [caption id="attachment_11683" align="alignright" width="196"]garners-first-novel Monkey Grip 1977[/caption]

Congratulations to Helen Garner

Helen Garner, one of my favourite Australian writers, deserves this hurrah. She writes across genres, and has recently won the prestigious Windham-Campbell prize for non-fiction. When she received an email asking for her telephone number from someone at Yale University, she thought it was a case of spam. This brings great validation to her as a writer, as well as $US150, 000 in prize money. The judges' citation  stated: "Helen Garner brings acute observations and narrative skill to bear on the conflicts and tragedies of contemporary Australian life".

A Genteel Ghost

a true story by Roger Britton
I never believed in ghosts before, but now I am not quite sure … perhaps a "presence" is what I mean ... St Mary’s Convent and school, in Warren, central New South Wales, had been the home for Josephite nuns for over one hundred years. A shortage of vocations meant that they could no longer staff the school. I had accepted the position of the new lay Principal. This old, two-storey convent, with its iron lacework verandahs, was to be our home. With my wife, Angela and our four children, we moved in during the Christmas holidays of 1977. A willing band of excited children carted bedding, toys and toiletry items up the stairs. Angela unpacked and set about organising the kitchen boxes and food, knowing that hunger would soon call us to table. [caption id="attachment_11694" align="aligncenter" width="619"]convent-building-warren The Lovely Old Convent Building in Warren[/caption]