Writing a memoir

It never occurred to me that my life might hold anything of much interest to readers, until I was telling someone about my experience with bengal tigers while working for a rural newspaper. Her eyes widened as the story unfolded, about how I went inside the holding area with the tigers and took pictures of those magnificent animals, including several rare white tigers. All had been hand-raised by the owner of the compound. She took in orphaned cats as well, but they were penned separately from the tigers. As I raised my camera to focus on the antics of two nearby cats, the lens suddenly turned blank and I opened my other eye to see a huge paw gently placed over the front of my camera. This huge fella was curious indeed. After several visits I was allowed to play with the young cubs kept in playpens in the house where the owner lived. My experiences while interacting with these gorgeous animals kept my adrenaline pumping, as it well should have.

I’ve since gone back and reread some of the stories I wrote while working nine years as a reporter, feature writer and editor for this small paper. Stories about naked hunters; the marijuana farmer who shot at a federal helicopter, and who later told my husband to keep his wife’s nose out of his business; trips I made into the wilderness to photograph huge paw prints of mountain lions; the day I was trampled by an entire basketball team. These adventures and so many more filled those years. Yes, I guess this part of my life might be interesting enough to readers of memoirs.

So I’m playing around with it. Have a title and a few chapters drafted out. What will I call it? Tigers and Snakes and Flying Machines seems like a good place to start. Who could ever have thought there might be so much excitement in a small county in Arkansas?

That paper is long gone. Bought up after 25 years in business by a company whose only goal was to shut down our paper, and eventually go broke trying to keep the others going. But the memories will never fade for me. A woman never trained to be a journalist, who got the chance simply because smaller papers can’t afford to pay the salary of a trained journalist, so they hire someone whose experience as a writer is well known. I learned to take my own photographs, was put to work editing the paper when our editor quit and they brought in a young man who could neither write or edit. He was a family friend, you see. I didn’t care much for editing, but was given a column about the history of the area which I continue to write for another small paper.

Oh, and there was the guy who stole all those computers from a place he worked part time while he was supposed to be selling ads for our paper. He went to prison. Maybe I should change the names of some of these folks. Heck, maybe considering the stories I’ve written or been involved in, I ought to change my name and the name of the paper, then place the entire story somewhere besides this county, and . . . Guess I’ll worry about all that later.

Still haven’t heard from two of the winners of my books on my blog book tour. Could it be they don’t want a copy? Or maybe after following the tour, they forgot to check my blog for the names of the winners. Anyway, the winner of the book and ring is Jean Rosenow, and she is thrilled. Jan Morrill will also receive her choice of a book. Still need to hear from J.R. Engle and Deborah who commented on Susan Tweit’s blog. Send me your address ladies and I’ll send you your choice of either of my two books featured on the tour.

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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
This entry was posted in airplanes, Arkansas, editor, journalists, marijuana, memoir, newspapers, snakes, tigers. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Writing a memoir

  1. Helen says:

    If you’re going to change the names of people (including yourself), places and papers, hmmm… write it as fiction with you as the protagonist. You would make a pretty good lead in a mystery or romance or adventure.

  2. Jan Morrill says:

    Thank you, Velda! I was happy to see I won a copy of one of your books. And, in the process, I learned about virtual book tours! Since I have “Fly With The Mourning Dove,” I’ll choose “Images in Scarlet.” Can’t wait to read it.

  3. zhadi says:

    Again, I think Helen might have a good idea, although I’d also love to read your memoir as non-fiction. Velda, go to http://www.cathouse-fcc.org and check it out when you have a minute! I very much can relate to the adrenaline rush of going in with big cats.

  4. Wow! I’d read a book like that–fiction or non!

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