It’s said that everyone has at least one book in them, and naturally many of these books would turn out to be autobiographies. Having read a whole host in my time, I would hazard this contribution to the best way of going about writing them.
The majority of autobiographies that I’ve read and really enjoyed have to be the ones which have given me a frisson of surprise somewhere along the line. All of us believe our lives would make interesting reading. It’s the selective process which we apply that is going to make the difference between a book that we pick up and read to the end, and a book we abandon after the first half chapter because it is boring.
We all share a common start. We are born. For the most part, the very beginning is usually pretty dull but as one engages with the world, things start to happen.
If you are going to write about a slice of your life, however big or small the slice, it has to keep people wanting to turn the pages. Seek out the parts of your life that you feel would be of interest to others.
There is nothing exciting about catching the 7.45 to work every morning and catching the 5.45 to return home in the evening. It is the one day that the 7.45 is late and something unforeseen happens that the interest begins. So the ability to convey various pieces of information that have a twist, or a difference, seems to be the key factor.
Any way that you can introduce an element of humour will also help. The ability to send yourself up, and find as much comedy in the anecdotes as you can, tells the reader something about who you are and what your personal perception on life is, which could create an affinity between you and the reader.
A classic example is someone like Maureen Lipman, who is able to take the most mundane happenings and turn them into a series of hilarious stories.
Autobiographies, like fiction, must have a beginning, a middle and an end. If you are going to attempt your own autobiography, it makes most sense to try and choose the most diverse period of your life. This will provide variety and help to engage the reader.
As a final suggestion, it is best to read as many autobiographies as you can, to see how each author handles their childhood, adolescence and early adulthood, and how they convey their own emotional take on the world. Write truthfully and from the heart. If it hurts, don't be afraid to say it hurts; if you make a serious error of judgement, say so and learn from it. As Shakespeare once wrote: "To thine own self be true".
Jennie Phillips writes for Any Subject Books. After many years of associating with the famous entertainment world friends of her actor husband, Conrad, the pair buy a small farm in South West Scotland. Skeoch - Our New Life On A Scottish Hill Farm tells the story of their numerous trials and tribulations.
An actor and his wife are an unlikely pair to combat the rigours of farming in South West Scotland, but with very little relevant knowledge let alone experience, Conrad and Jennie buy Skeoch Farm and set about making it viable. They are visited by hardship and tragedy, but also by beauty and contentment. This is a lifestyle more to be admired than envied, perhaps, but we can certainly share in the roller-coaster existence which is so vividly described.