Genesis of a Memoir

Our youngest grandson, Jake, asked us ‘What was it like when you were my age?’ and how could he know as I rarely spoke of my upbringing to him or the other grandchildren?  This prompted me to write a memoir whose title was suggested by Jake’s mother Megan, “Me, My Beard and I”.  I had bought Anna Meryt’s book on writing a memoir and  my original plan was to print it using my laser onto A4 pages but as I began writing I thought that something better could be produced and decided to self publish a “proper book”.  We already had ISBN numbers and had used a great printer, One Digital,  for the Enfield Poets Anthology so I was all set.

I then decided to include some photos and this is one of me at about 18 months.  I still wear baggy trousers and braces.

Bearded in 1963

Mutton chops in the mid 70s

After I had written a couple of chapters I thought to join the Life Writing class run by the Bishopsgate institute tutored by Nick Barley.  In fact I enrolled with two of his courses and learnt much which meant re-writing!  Nick also encouraged us to plan the book and so I laid out the chapters with a sketch of how I wanted the story to unfold and the order in which the chapters were to be.   I then joined a short story writing class with Barbara Marsh  which was very interesting and helpful and lead to more re-writing!  Eventually I was able to manage 40,000 words, not many for a book but loads for me.  It covered from 1943 to about 1964.

The research, choosing the photos to use, all caused me to reflect on my life and enabled me to better understand why things happend the way and when they did.  I gained a different perspective of what had happend which was both useful and enjoyable.

Next came the design and layout a process I found very interesting.  First came the size and I decided upon B5, next type face and I thought Palatino Linotype looked good, is very readable and had a certain gravitas. The paper was 90 GSM and suggested by the printer. All this was fairly straightforward.  Other aspects were to resize the page, choose margin size, make sure every word was in the correct font which I found painstaking but MS Word enabled me to do all of this.  I am not good at detail.  The printer asked for text and images as PDF files and sent back a digital proof and the pages numbered.  This enabled me to finish the contents page.  Jools Barrett designed a wonderful front cover using a photo taken by granddaughter Holly and I decided to use my poem “Railing” for the back cover. and all was set, I just need to review the hard copy proof which I am reading in the Feature Image at the top of the page.

One Digital have impressive machinery and are extremely helpful and sent me some images and video of my book beaing printed and on the way to be trimmed.

And here are the pre-trimmed books.

And they arrived, on time!!!  Only 60 copies but already I am planning volume 2. Next I intend to publish my first collection of poetry ‘Goddess and Other Poems’

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