Guest Post: Author Anne Goodwin

Anne GoodwinToday, I’m delighted and honoured to welcome author Anne Goodwin to the Summerhouse.

I first met Anne over a year ago when I took the plunge – or should I say, the saddle – and rode over to Charli Mills’ Carrot Ranch to take a stab at writing 99 Word Flash Fiction.

In that time, Anne has gone on to publish her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, and her journey to publication and kind encouragement has truly inspired me to keep walking (best time for inspiration we both agree) and writing my memoir.

A small few of us memoirists write flash alongside fiction writers at the Ranch, giving rise to some lively, mutually enlightening and fun discussions, with Anne contributing a fascinating psychological perspective which she touches on here.

And on that note, I’ll shut up and hand the reins over to Anne:

Putting the personal into fiction … and taking it out again

A friend emails to say she’s about halfway through my novel, and enjoying it very much. Her husband has read it before her, and he enjoyed it too. But I can’t help chuckling when she says he’s warned her she’ll look at me differently when she’s finished. I know exactly what she means and, like most jokes, it carries more than a grain of truth.

My debut novel, Sugar and Snails, is about a middle-aged woman with an unusual secret, one she’s hung onto for thirty years in fear of friends and colleagues looking at her differently if it ever got out. It’s made her cagey, awkward and prickly; although she has a reasonable life with her own house and a decent job, she’s always holding back. Diana’s story isn’t my story, but I identify with a lot of her struggles.

I write from a love of words and story, as well as a desire to give my own experiences shape. I write because I grew up with a story that somehow couldn’t be told, yet I’ve no desire to produce a memoir. I didn’t give much thought to this until I began interacting with memoirists in the blogosphere. I’ve chewed over the question of what makes the difference, why some of us translate our lives into fiction, while others go for memoir. I still haven’t come up with a satisfactory answer.

I suppose I’m driven less to tell my personal story than to transform it into a story that can be told. Maybe memoirists feel a similar motivation; it’s not for me to say. But while I recognise that my fiction is very personal, and can identify parallels in my own life, the foundation is always a story: the interaction between character and plot.

In Sugar and Snails, I’ve created a character with an unusual biography, a woman with a life very different to mine. But in order to enable myself to fully inhabit her mentality, I’ve written her story as if it were mine. She’s me and not me or the me that, in different circumstances, I might have been.

Yet I’m not entirely sure what people mean when they ask the question, Is it autobiographical? (Or in my case, look at me differently, but don’t dare ask.) I think they’re wondering about the surface issues, the facts of the case, the details that I’m inclined to make up. As a former professional psychologist, and as a writer of literary fiction, I’m more interested in the themes we might discover below the surface, the emotional truth of the novel, so to speak.

Some of the underlying themes of Sugar and Snails are very close to my heart. One of the reasons I’m thanking my therapist is for the help she’s given me both in making sense of my own past and in drawing the line between my fictional alter ego and myself. Yet, three months on from publication, I’m intrigued by how little curiosity there’s been around the possible connections, not just from those who don’t know me so well wondering if I share my character’s secret, but from those who’ve known me for years drawing the deeper parallels.

Of course, there could be whispering in dark corners of which I’m unaware, but I think not. The lack of questioning might stem from the fact that many readers can identify with the underlying themes of my novel, they don’t need to pin them on me. After all, who hasn’t ever felt uncomfortable in their own skin? Ever felt like the ugly duckling and wished you could be transformed into a swan? Traumatic adolescence anyone? Something about you you’d much rather others didn’t know? These themes pop up again and again in life, in novels, and in memoir. Maybe I should stop worrying about why we choose one form of words over the other and focus on readying my next novel to be scrutinised, or not, for the bits that come from the deepest part of me.

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Anne Goodwin’s debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman who has kept her past identity a secret for thirty years, was published in July 2015 by Inspired Quill.

Sugar And Snails Book Cover

Her second novel, Underneath, about a man who keeps a woman captive in his cellar, is scheduled for May 2017. A former clinical psychologist, she is also the author of over 60 published short stories, a book blogger and speaker on fictional therapists and on transfiction. Catch up on her website: annethology or on Twitter @Annecdotist.

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Thank you so much Anne for taking the time to visit the Summerhouse today and for contributing your wonderfully engaging and thought-provoking guest post.   I have your book ready and waiting to read on my Kindle (as with most of us, my TBR list is ever-growing, but I will read every book!) and I wish you every success with your second novel, which, like Sugar and Snails, looks to be an absolute corker.

About Sherri Matthews

Sherri has been writing full time since 2011. Currently working on her memoir, 'Stranger in a White Dress', she has been published in a variety of national magazines, websites and three anthologies. Sherri raised her three, now adult children, in California for twenty years and today, lives in England’s West Country with her hubby, Aspie youngest, two cats, a grumpy bunny and a family of Chinese Button Quails. She keeps out of mischief blogging, gardening, walking by the sea and snapping endless photographs. Her garden robin muse vists regularly.
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91 Responses to Guest Post: Author Anne Goodwin

  1. Charli Mills says:

    Great guest post, Anne, and something I wonder about, too. I think memoirists sometimes have a clarity of story whereas fiction writers have a nugget that can be expanded by “what if.” But I’m sure we’d all answer why differently, which is part of the joy of writing and reading. So glad you both saddle up memoir and fiction style at the ranch! Tho I have to say, you are both versatile writers.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Sherri says:

      Hi Charli, and yes, I agree, I loved Anne’s guest post, and how she writes about that fine line between fiction and autobiography that is so often wondered about. It’s great how different experiences for memoirists and fiction writers meander and merge. As you know, I had no confidence in my fiction abilities when I first saddled up and rode over to the Ranch in a dust storm (in which I hoped to hide), but writing flash fiction has helped both tighten and improve my writing, while giving me free rein to write about characters who appear out of nowhere and who allow me to expand on that ‘what if’ in a way I can’t do in my memoir. I can let rip in other words and I love that! In the crafting of memoir, there is indeed that ‘clarity of story’ you rightly mention, which also gives scope for reflection which enables us to write outside the box of the story, as it leads. And I love that too. I can’t wait to read Anne’s book, she is such an wonderful writer. Ahh…we could chat all day, I love it! The joy of writing and reading indeed, part of the fun of saddling up…thanks Charli 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      • Annecdotist says:

        Thanks Charli and Sherri. It always seemed strange to me that people would be more scared of writing fiction than memoir – perhaps that is partly what accounts for the house we go our separate ways – but so good indeed that we come together over the Ranch.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Well you have absolutely tickled my curiosity and won my attention. Your books sounds very interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Your premise sounds very intriguing, Anne. Congratulations on your release!
    Thanks for hosting Anne, Sherri! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for such an interesting post ladies. I like the sound of your book Anne, very intriguing. I the fact that you have played with fact and fiction in it too. Sounds like a great read 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Wonderful guest post, Sherri and Anne. I got so engrossed, clicked on the free sample of ‘Sugar and Snails’, then couldn’t find my way back to your blog. 🙂 Anne is an amazing writer, who really draws the reader in from the first sentence. I have to read this book. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  6. jennypellett says:

    Interesting post Sherri – thank you for introducing us to Anne. Sugar and Snails sounds intriguing. Will be adding to never decreasing book pile…

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Fascinating post and interesting author. Marvelous when a reader thinks the story is about you. Must mean it’s a awesome story. 😀 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Annika Perry says:

    This is a lovely and fascinating guest post, Sherri. Anne, your words have struck a chord with me as I read them this morning, particularly regarding the emotional truth of the novel(the deeper themes) and ‘the foundation is always a story: the interaction between character and plot’. Both so true. I am very intrigued by your first published novel – congratulations 😀 – and will take a closer look now.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Great post Anne and Sherri. I’m hoping to have time over Christmas to read Sugar and Snails along with numerous other of those many books on the growing list. We must all have those lists. The reason I write memoir is because I wish to own the story. If I were to write fiction it would still be autobiographical as I don’t have a creative mind that can conjure up places, people and story but I may create a character out of several people, make the ending the way it should have happened in life but didn’t, add a climax that didn’t happen in that story but happened elsewhere etc etc. Both fiction and memoir both try and create an understanding of the human experience but to my mind the big difference is the way the reader looks at the two different forms. With fiction they read prepared to take leaps of faith (I believe it still has to be believable and well researched) and will accept more than they will with memoir. With memoir, the consumer reads it as a true story. No leaps of faith are given and the reader will feel cheated if it turns out that a memoir is fraudulently written or not true.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Annecdotist says:

      Thanks for adding that perspective, Irene, and we’ve had interesting blog discussions about this in the past. I certainly agree that fiction has to come across as credible, even though we accept all kinds of things that wouldn’t happen in real life, but we feel cheated if the details are wrong. I’m intrigued as to why anyone would write a fraudulent memoir rather than positioning it as a novel – unless that was to attract a particular market? Seems quite a cynical way to carry on.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sherri says:

        I don’t understand why anyone would write a fraudulent memoir either Anne, but it has happened. Irene is far more expert than I on this subject, and would be able to go further with this. What on earth is the point? I’ve also read of a memoirist who was hung, drawn and quartered in the media for daring to have the audacity to tell such a harrowing tale (a woman), but was a huge success with readers…

        Liked by 2 people

      • Memoir and creative non-fiction generally (of which memoir is a part) is the largest growing segment of the book market. People, it seems, want to read true stories. Some people are cashing in on this by writing fraudulently. James Frey was a famous case where he originally tried to sell his book as a novel. Publishers did not take it up so he retried marketing it as a memoir. This they did take up but it was found that he had falsified some of the detail, which was why he tried to sell it as fiction to start with. I think it became famous because he had been on Oprah and it made her look a bit silly as well. Other people have written as someone they are not such as Love and Consequences by Margaret Jones about a half American Indian foster child growing up in the gangs of Los Angeles. The author’s sister revealed this as fake. There are numerous fake holocaust memoirs such as A Memoire of the holocaust years by Misha Defonseca These types are often to hit the reading public with a compelling voice that will impact positively for the minority group they are writing about.
        Admittedly the same has happened with a fiction novel which the author Helen Demindenko claimed was based on interviews she did with her Ukrainian relatives regarding the Stalinist purges in Ukrainia. She of course claimed she was Ukrainian. This was sold as a historical novel, with Demindenko talking up that it was her family history. It won the Miles Franklin award before it was revealed that she was actually the daughter of British parents and her name was Helen Darville. The debate around this book was fierce at the time (in the 1990’s) but the difference being that because it had been sold as fiction (despite her rhetoric) it continued to be sold and went on to win further prizes. The memoirs mentioned above were removed from sale.
        On another point – Elizabeth Gilbert says that if you want to know the real her read her novel as opposed to her memoirs. Her memoirs have been edited and vetted for what she is revealing about herself whereas she relaxed with her novel and allowed herself to show unintentionally. Perhaps that is what your friends will see from your novel Anne.
        Anyway I am looking forward to reading it.

        Liked by 4 people

      • Annecdotist says:

        Thanks for sharing your expertise here, Irene. I think I have come across some of these cases, but it’s really helpful to have more background. But it’s interesting, that while I wouldn’t want to make excuses for people misrepresenting themselves, I can kind of understand how it might happen.
        If you’re desperate to be published, have tried just about every avenue, and someone offers to publish your fiction as memoir, what do you do? If you’ve put a lot of yourself into that book, might you find a way of deluding yourself it qualifies as memoir? (Obviously YOU would be more principled, I’m thinking of the general you.)
        And these days – apart perhaps from the elusive Elena Ferranti – when novelists are required to promote themselves alongside their work, there must be a pressure – either from within from outside – to make links that readers can relate to. While there’s a difference between stretching the truth and downright lying, the first must be tempting. (In fact, I’m already anxious in relation to this post in case people are intrigued by the possible personal associations – but the most interesting ones aren’t me.)
        It sounds a bit like Munchhausen syndrome, where people invent or self-create symptoms to get attention, perhaps because they have a need that can’t be articulated so they’ve borrowed someone else’s story/problems, to express it.
        And so interesting what you say about Elizabeth Gilbert – I do suspect that fiction can relay one’s emotional truth more easily. So memoir might be more useful for conveying the more interesting/unusual events?
        I’ve just put in a submission for a literature festival which is looking at how people connect with literature on psychological and emotional levels, so these reflections will be extremely useful if I get the opportunity to present there.
        Thanks for such a lively discussion.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Irene: I love this: “Elizabeth Gilbert says that if you want to know the real her read her novel as opposed to her memoirs. Her memoirs have been edited and vetted for what she is revealing about herself whereas she relaxed with her novel and allowed herself to show unintentionally.”

        Liked by 3 people

    • Sherri says:

      That’s my plan over Christmas too Irene, so I’ll join you 🙂 And thank you so much for adding your excellent points about memoir and fiction. I love the distraction of flash fiction but the thought of writing a novel still terrifies me. I am in utter and total awe of novelists. How the heck does Anne or any novelist, do it? I know without even going down that path (maybe, one day), that like you Irene, any fiction I would write would be autobiographical. Most of my flashes have a tiny bit of BOTS, sometimes a lot…but I embellish them, something I wouldn’t do in memoir. Sometimes, life really is stranger than fiction but there can be no room for doubt and questioning in memoir, otherwise all credibility is lost, and that is fundamental isn’t it? But as Anne says in her reply, we also feel cheated if something doesn’t quite add up in fiction. So I come back to what you said at the beginning Irene, about owning our story and I agree, believing that is the crux of memoir…and perhaps a fiction writer would say that it is the characters who own the story, leading them along as they write and develop. Fascinating all of this, just fascinating…

      Liked by 3 people

      • Annecdotist says:

        Ha, ha, I’d be terrified to write a memoir! Fiction seems quite natural if you’ve been making things up all your life!
        But it’s true about life sometimes being stranger than fiction – I know of some writers who have been advised to cut BOTS events from their fiction because they don’t seem real.
        Have discussed on in your story with Irene before – or rather she’s tried to get me to understand the concept, but I’m not sure I do! But yes, maybe during the process of writing fiction the story belongs to the characters, but when it’s published I think it’s down to the reader to decide what it’s about. Would you say are published memoir belongs to the author or reader?

        Liked by 2 people

      • Sherri says:

        Haha…yes, I had a feeling you would say that Anne, and I was right about Irene being the expert! Thanks both for your wonderful respones! Irene, I leapt up in a ‘yes’ as it was James Frey I was specifically thinking of but couldn’t remember the name! Intersting point about understanding how that might happen Anne. I also find it thought-provoking that the fraudulent memoirs were withdrawn but Darville’s novel went on to great success. And yes, I agree, fascinating about Elizabeth Gilbert. I would love to know Irene if you agree with her. I tend to see it at an opposite, that emotional truth is the whole point behind memoir, crafted in such a way as to bring the reader in with you, taking them through the entire range of emotion and out the other side with a sense of redemptive understanding. But I don’t believe that memoir has to be about baring our soul to the extent that others are ripped apart. It’s back to the owning of the story, we tell it as it happened to us, but another person in the same room might have a different perspective. Hence, the issue of truth and half-truths. I feel much more comfortable telling my story in memoir than I would as a novel. I can’t even use fake names in the writing, as immediatly I lose that ‘spark’, that authenticity. I will change some names after, but not in the writing, and that is just to protect privacy out of respect, not because I’m saying horrible things about them. I am utterly honest in how I felt at the time, in the emotion of the moment, in all it’s glory, and my actions, but with the benefit of reflection. Maybe this helps me answer your very pertinent question Anne asking who published memoir ultimately belongs to. And I would honestly say that I believe it also belongs to the reader because of this great need to share our true story with others and take them along with us from start to finish. But I admit, the thought of releasing it ‘out there’ makes me gulp…not because of what is revealed in parts (nothing that those who were involved don’t already know), but because it’s sat with me for most of my adult life. Personal, yes, but compelled to share it because of this huge desire to connect with others. Hope this all makes sense!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Sherri says:

        Anne, I meant to say, I would love to attend the literature festival you mention if you are invited, although not sure where it will be. Do let me know, it sounds absolutely fascinating…thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Annecdotist says:

        It’s a new one in November in Shrewsbury, and i’ll certainly let you know if I get a slot!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Annecdotist says:

        Interesting, Sherri, that the processes should be so similar. And one publisher did describe my novel as a ‘fictional biography’.
        I wonder, for the memoirist, how it feels if/when readers interpret your story differently to how you do? I love it when that happens with my fiction, but I don’t want anyone undermining with my personal truth, had too much of that in the past!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Sherri says:

        Thanks for that Anne, I do hope you get a slot! And what a very thought-provoking question you ask. It made me sit up straight, and I would have to say that yes, I would find it very difficult for someone to question my personal truth. I’ve not had that happen as yet, although obviously I’ve only published memoir pieces in magazines and an anthology, not my own book as yet, but perhaps that’s where part of that sense of ‘ownership’ that Irene first mentioned in this discussion comes in – when we have the 100 percent ownership of our personal truth, we don’t fear that questioning. I can definitely see why you, as a novelist, relish different interpretations, I’ve had a tiny taste of that with some of the flash fiction pieces I’ve written for Charli’s prompts, and I too love that. But for memoir, that is another thing altogether, absolutely. Great chatting with you both, thanks so much, you’ve given me a great deal of food for thought, which I shall continue to chew on… 😉

        Liked by 2 people

  10. Thank you, Sherri, for introducing me to Anne Goodwin. I have made some very tentative, very small (very) forays into memoir on my blog, but I think that were I to write my story in any significant way it would be in, through, and woven around a fictional character who mostly isn’t me but may carry some elements of my story. That said, there doesn’t appear to be any danger of said book being produced any time soon.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Annecdotist says:

      Great to make your acquaintance, Marlene. Yes, I think a blog does tend towards memoir – readers want to get to know us as people, but we still limit what we share.
      I wish you all the best with your own writing – if you do have ambitions to produce a book, do keep writing, although as I’ve said in one of my blog posts, whether you get there or not involves an element of luck.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Sherri says:

      My pleasure, and thank you Marlene for sharing your thoughts. You’ll find the best flow that works and how far you want to go with those elements. I enjoy reading your blog very much, getting to know you through your work and recipes and every day life and connecting here in the blogosphere. Whether you write memoir or fiction, your unique mark will brand the story your hearts compells you to. And I do wish you the very best as you write on…and I thank you so much for your wonderful encouragement of my writing 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  11. Anne, I was fascinated by SUGAR AND SNAILS–I love the title, and your description really captured my attention–so I went to your website, too. WOW! Now I want to read everything you’ve written!
    Thanks for introducing us to Anne, Sherri.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Annecdotist says:

      Ah, Marilyn, I’m sure you can imagine how chuffed I am to get that feedback. I’ve got quite a lot of short stories to read for free via my website but, of course, I’m most proud of Sugar and Snails. (And I really like my title too, although when I had a stall in one of the local libraries recently someone thought I was trying to promote sugar!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sherri says:

        Anne, I need to head over to your website too and spend some time there, and that’s funny about your title, but yes, like Marylin, I’m too fascinated by it…and I wondered if you were going to say that someone thought it was about gardening as I know salt and snails don’t do well together, but sugar…? Hmmm…you’ve got us hooked!

        Like

      • Annecdotist says:

        Haven’t had that reaction yet, Sherri, but it’s an interesting one, and I’ve never yet tried controlling snails with sugar! The title should become clear once you’ve read the book, but just thought, I should add something to my website for anyone who still doesn’t get it!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Thanks Marylin, I’m delighted to host Anne at the Summerhouse, I feel just the same way about her writing 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Norah says:

      You won’t be disappointed! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. dgkaye says:

    How lovely to get familiar with Anne and her work Sherri. This is my kind of reading. Once again I’m off to add to my TBR. 🙂 xo

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Annecdotist says:

    Thanks, Debbie, good to connect with you too. I do hope you enjoy Sugar and Snails.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Haha, Sherri! 😀 “an absolute corker…” Yes, Sugar and Snails was a corker. (I don’t know what that means but, by the context, I’m assuming it’s a compliment.) Thanks for hosting Anne. What a fantastic mix: memoir and fiction. I’m so glad you two cooked this up.

    Anne: Now I see your reference to this upcoming post on my Reaching Into the Well post. All this, exactly this. It’s fascinating. I always wonder about this. Where do we draw the line? Where is the line? Must we draw it? Can’t we transmute instead? I’ve been focused on creative nonfiction since my professor introduced me to it…um…15 years ago? And, of course, I write snippets of “memoir” I suppose you could call it on Lemon Shark. It’s a blog about me and real events that happen so… I don’t know what else to call it. But an autobiography? Never. Actually, I’m really trying to figure out how I can switch from creative nonfiction to fiction. I love how you used pieces of your life and experiences to get into Diana’s head and make her more believable. Wonderful post and I’m halfway through the comments which are also wildly interesting to read.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Oh my gosh, you two! I didn’t realize I’d rambled so. I’m sorry!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Annecdotist says:

        Thanks, Sarah, great to have your input and not rambling at all. I’m really thrilled how this post has sparked so many thoughtful comments, all testament to Sherri’s marvellous blogging community.
        I’m glad you connected with the essence of the post – transmute is a good word for what I think I might be doing (how can one ever know for sure?), but I think the line is always there and it’s about self-protection. Your flashes demonstrate that you’ve definitely got a talent for fiction, but can’t you do both? Like, apparently, Elizabeth Gilbert?
        And yes, I certainly take “a corker” as a compliment, same meaning as “a belter” ref Sugar and Snails p224 – not that I know my book off by heart but I do like to be able to check these things!

        Liked by 3 people

      • Sherri says:

        Absolutely no apologies Sarah….bring it on, let’s ramble together … 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      • You know what, Anne? Why can’t I do both? I’ve been having such a difficult time with this decision — it must be this or that (well, at least mostly this and a touch of that) or the other way round. I don’t know if I can handle both without one suffering but I can try. (Sherri does have an amazing blogging community!) Well, Sugar and Snails is belter. (p 224) 😉

        Liked by 2 people

      • Annecdotist says:

        The only limits are your time, Sarah, and, even if you decide one’s not for you, it’s all good writing practice, so never wasted. As far as I can recall, I’ve only read two memoirs, and both were by established novelists and fairly similar to their fiction.
        I think it takes a long long time to work out how we want to write and, though I’m very pleased with where I’ve got to, I still don’t think I know how I want to do it. It’s also said that it’s different with each project.
        And thanks for that – Sugar and Snails a belter!

        Liked by 3 people

    • Sherri says:

      Haha! I see that Anne has cleared up the ‘corker’ reference…most definitely a compliment 😀 Sarah, I’m delighted to have you join in, thank you so much, was so hoping you would, and as Anne says, you haven’t rambled at all…heck, look at the length of some of the replies here…!!! I’m delighted, this is what gets my juices flowing, so to speak 😉 Reading your reply to Anne, I’m reminded of the first piece I ever had published in 2012 in a magazine, a short, 300 word story (A Walk in the Woods, up on my menu bar) which was based on my personal experience. I love writing in the third person, but so far, only in short, very short pieces and this brings me to what Irene said about Elizabeth Gilbert and thinking of your questions about the lines between memoir and fiction (and yes, that’s why I was thrilled for Anne to write her excellent guest post about this very subject, which I find so fascinating). I’ve not read Eat Love Pray, but I remember Mary Karr touching on it in her book. Apparantely, EG left out swathes of personal ‘stuff’ in her memoir, but it’s the poetic beauty of her writing that made her book so popular. So maybe it is possible to write memoir and fiction (and I agree with Anne, you are a talent, a fine talent) after all. You say you could never write an autobiography, I say I could never write a novel. I say never say never, ha! Let’s see what happens… 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  15. Ali Isaac says:

    Hi Anne, nice to meet you. Both your books sound intriguing. I have a story to write because I want to reach out to other families who might be going through similar experiences. I have started it so many times, in so many different styles, but can never find the right way to express it. It should be easy, after all, I live it, but it’s not. So I write fiction instead. And admire all memoirists who can. All that wordiness to try and illustrate how I agree with you… Fiction is easier for me than memoir. I enjoyed your post, and good luck with the new book!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sherri says:

      Hi Ali, I’m just popping over to the Summerhouse for some long over-due replies to comments before I return in full to blogging soon I hope. As I read both your comment and Anne’s reply, I just wanted to add that yes, I would agree with Anne that I can fully understand why you are finding it hard – at the moment – to write your memoir the way you feel you want to write it, for the very reason that you are living it. I’ve thought of writing about Asperger’s Syndrome from my daughter’s and my personal experiences, but I’m too close to it and although like you, I really want to reach out to others going through the same challenges, I feel that at the moment, I can only do that through blog posts here from time to time, just as you do. I am not in that place to write a memoir about it, not at all. I’ve also been asked if I’m writing a memoir about my experiences of growing up with my alcoholic, prison-bird father, but because he is still alive, I don’t feel I can finish the story yet, even though he has given me his blessing to write about him. I touch on some aspects of my earlier life with him in my memoir, but very little only as it’s relevant to the story. But the memoir I’m writing is a very different story that takes place over only 3 years, 1978 to 1981 and because of the great distance both in time and from the life I lived then to the one I live now, I’m able to seperate it out completely and so while I’ve got that distance, I can also immerse myself into my 19/20 year self telling the story, but with the benefit of reflection. Having said that, I’ve wanted to write this story since my mid twenties, but the time never felt right. So, all this to say (and you are not wordy at all, but I know I do go on and I hope my rambling makes sense, ha!) that distance and time is a great gift for memoirists. And writing fiction is a great gift, period. Happy New Year Ali, look forward to catching up with you next year! 🙂 xxx

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ali Isaac says:

        Ah thank you Sherri! That makes me feel much better and more ‘normal’. I wondered about the distance and you are so right. Thank you for that, and your lovely wishes. I hope 2016 brings you lots of peace, love, joy and success in your writing. Xxx

        Liked by 2 people

      • Sherri says:

        Ali, I’m so glad to know this helped, you are very normal!!! I’m just sorry it took me this long to reply to you…time ran away from me in the run up to Christmas!! Just keep doing what you’re doing on your blog and with your writing, I am truly amazed at all you’ve accomplished with the publication of your novels while busy raising your beautiful family. You inspire me! And thank you for your lovely wishes, I will hold each and every one of them closely in my heart, and I hope for you the very same! Big hugs to you Ali…xxx

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Annecdotist says:

    Thanks, Ali, good to connect here – I recognised your name from Twitter, and assumed I was following you, wasn’t, but now put that right! I also popped across to your blog and read some of your moving posts on caring for your daughter, and I assume you’re thinking this would be the topic of your memoir. Actually, I’m not surprised you’ve found it difficult to write as a memoir. Even though your blog posts are very well written it seems a lot bigger step to put that in a book, and very hard to do so when you’re actually living it. Whether written as fiction of fact, I think we need a certain distance from our experiences in order to write them for others. I wouldn’t apologise for writing fiction! And thanks for your words – not wordy at all!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Norah says:

    I’ve come very late to this post, but I’m pleased. The conversation is amazing. Anne, your wonderful post inspired so many thoughtful and informative comments, this entire post has become a well-rounded gem. Thank you, Sherri for hosting Anne. The discussion comparing fiction and memoir is fascinating. I don’t think I could write a novel (though I have an idea in mind) and I don’t think I could write a memoir (the basis of it would be the basis of the novel with the names changed to protect the innocent, I wish, me). I think I would have to do it as fiction but I fear I’d be giving far too much away even in changing names and situations. I’m not ready for that yet, and it’s not high priority at this time, so I’ll stick to the safety of education. I even worry if I reveal too much of myself through my flash stories for the Carrot Ranch. I am reasonably happy to share what I think. Sharing feelings is much more difficult. So to both memoirist and novelist, I take off my hat: to your courage and talent. I’m in awe. Anne, your book is a corker; and I am looking forward to reading your next. Sherri and Irene, I am looking forward to your memoirs. Thank you Sherri and Anne, for this engaging post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Annecdotist says:

      Glad you could drop by, Norah, and share your reflections. As you can see, I’ve had a fabulous time here on Sherri’s Summerhouse where the responses to my post have really helped develop my thinking.
      By inclination and training I was always reticent about revealing much of myself, but that started to change with blogging and then a little more with the publication of my novel. I think I’m still fairly cautious, but understand more about the reasons for that.
      I do still have in mind a much more personal novel that, for the moment, I’m not inclined to write. But never say never, eh? You might one day write yours also.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Norah says:

        Thanks, Anne. It’s interesting to see how blogging has dragged a little more of the personal out of each of us. There seems to be little we can do to avoid it completely, otherwise there’d be no connection made.
        No, never say never. We’ll see. How many lifetimes do we have? 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • Sherri says:

        It’s been great hosting you Anne, I’m thrilled that the conversation is still ongoing…all the way through to the end of the year!… and the way it’s helped me continue to rethink the possibliities of novel writing. Fascinating, all of it. Blogging has given us a wonderful platform for connection. But even so, although by nature of my blog I do reveal some personal aspects of my life, it is really the tip of the iceburg. There are things I will never share publicly here but even in ‘owning’ the story in memoir, it never fails to amaze me how powerful the need for self-preservation reveals itself to be. But I can now see much better how that also applies to fiction thanks to you. Thank you again so much for your wonderful sharing of your insights and writing experiences here, it’s been an absolute pleasure. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas Anne, and wishing you Happy New Year celebrations for later. I’ll see you soon, once I’m up and running here properly. Take care 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Annecdotist says:

        Thanks, Sherri, and it’s wonderful how this conversation has continued, all thanks to your extremely hospitable summerhouse (even in the middle of winter, although not a particularly wintry one unfortunately). I’m glad you have that instinct for self-preservation and privacy; I guess that’s one of the things that does worry me about memoir but I’m sure you know what you’re doing!
        Hope you’ve had a wonderful break and look forward to reconnecting the other side of the New Year.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sherri says:

          Thanks Anne! I hope I know what I’m doing, ha! And yes, what a miserable, wet and windy winter. Can’t we have just a tiny bit of snow? Frost would be nice…although I heard that it’s going to be frosty in parts for New Year’s Day, so let’s see. Enjoying the break, getting a lot of loose ends tied up before delving back in, but desperate to get to my revisions and crack on with getting my book finished. Hope you’re getting in some R&R; see you on the other side!! xx

          Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Hello Norah,. I’m popping in briefly to the Summerhouse before returning to blogland ‘proper’, and wanted to thank you for your wonderful comment. I’m thrilled with the response Anne has received here and yes, what a fantastic discussion her excellent post has triggered! I can just imagine all of us sitting around a table, drinking loads of coffee or tea or wine even, chatting away about memoir and fiction and our thoughts and feelings about our writing. The thing is, you are doing what you are meant to do, spreading the word about education, that is where you heart lies and what you do so well. Your blog is not only educational, but inspiring, intelligent, fun, interesting and I love the way you incorporate your visuals and educational messages with your flash fiction and also with little snippets of your life in Australia. I take my hat off to you for the great education you’ve given so many students who I know will always be thankful to you for. And again, as we all agree, never say never with that novel and/or memoir…! It’s great that we spur one another on to greater heights, some of which we didn’t think we would ever attempt to scale, never mind climb all the way to the top! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas Norah, and wishing you a very Happy New Year, which I believe has probably already been and gone for you…here’s to a wonderful 2016. See you soon! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Norah says:

        Thank you for your lovely comment, Sherri. You brought tears to my eyes. Tears of unworthiness. I aspire to attain your description. I guess its the aspiration that keeps me going. You are very kind and supportive. S.M.A.G. that!
        I love the picture you describe of us all sitting around the table sharing our stories. I guess that’s what we do in reality, with connections just as tangible as if we were sitting around the one table. I like that thought ‘one table’. I might work on that. 🙂 Our bodies may be far away but we leap great distances in our minds and connect as if we were side by side. Sometimes I think its easier to make those connections over the internet. It is easier to find like minded people on the waves than it is to find them in person, especially for an introvert. It is great that we are able to support each other whatever our endeavours.
        I did have a wonderful Christmas, thank you, Sherri. I hope you did too, and that 2016 is off to a good start. I’ve been busy getting resources ready for my website so blogs and social media have slipped below my radar momentarily. I’ll be doing my best to catch up once I get things underway.
        Looking forward to connecting throughout the year.
        Best wishes. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        • Sherri says:

          Ahh Norah, no unworthiness here…absolutely not. SMAG reigns 😀 I stick by what I said and I meant every word 🙂 And yes, we may as well be sitting around one table, you’re right. Online friendships are amazing (and perhaps that will at long last be the subject for my next post, bearing in mind that I am off to a slow start as I have yet to post since Christmas, yikes!). As with you, I’m doing behind-blog ‘stuff’ and that is slowing me up. I have to complete some important tasks and prepare to return to my memoir revisions before I get back to blogging in full or I’ll be lost. Hopefully by the end of the week or early next week. I was thinking of you and your website which I believe you are launching at the end of this month? I’m sure you are up to your eyes with getting everything ready, s don’t worry about social media, you’ll get back there when you are able. I am saying this to myself just as much!! I look forward to hearing your updates! It was a wonderful Christmas, thank you, and so glad for you too. And now here we are…2016! I hope the year brings you every success my friend…and here’s to blogging side by side throughout. See you soon, best wishes to you and big hugs 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

          • Norah says:

            Thank you so much for your understanding and support, Sherri. Yep, up to my eyeballs and beyond; and I’ve just had some lovely family time away from the computer for a few days so even further behind. Never mind, I’ll work like crazy now to try to catch up, even if I’m still far behind the pack. I never did win a race in my life (or any other time for that matter!). Maybe that’s why the tortoise appeals to me so much – slow and steady! 🙂
            Thank you for your best wishes for the year. I wish them also to you. It is going to be an interesting one with lots happening and I look forward to sharing your progress and comparing notes. I raise my glass to your success, and to that of all of our friends. I hope 2016 brings much joy and success. 🙂

            Liked by 2 people

  18. Gulara says:

    What a brilliant post! As a memoirist and someone who kept my identity hidden for along time, I’m officially in love with Sugar and Snails. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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