In my last few blogs I have looked at what form my writing takes and if, for example, my collection of life stories can be seen as a memoir. While I concluded that this was not the case, it is, nonetheless, instructive to read a recent post on Eleanor Wachtel's Writers and Company website where three distinguished memoirists discuss such important questions as whether memoirs must be entirely factual and whether the writing process frees the author. #memoir #traveler #livingworldhistory
In yesterday’s blog I referred to my book’s genre and concluded that it was a collection of life stories rather than a memoir or autobiography, although the definition of each genre can be somewhat fluid. Today, I will comment briefly on the genre of each life story in On the Border. Are they short stories, flash fiction or vignettes? Again, definitions vary and the form of each can be somewhat fluid, but I would suggest that mine are vignettes, as each is not a complete work in itself but combined they do tell a larger story – that of my life. Most are around 1,000 words and are intended to give context to a character, place or event. And with perhaps one exception, they are not bound to a narrative structure. Enough said. I suspect that the remainder of my blogs will not be quite as academic or definitional.
Before writing my book, I had to decide what the overall genre would be and what structure each story would take. Would On the Border be a traditional autobiography or memoir or one entire life story (although these terms are sometimes interchangeable) or a combination of these genres? Is the distinction even important? I was a little uncomfortable with autobiography or memoir, however, as I was not certain that my life had been that exemplary and neither was I famous, two conditions often considered de rigeur to write in those genres; nor had I reached the advanced age that I needed to sum things up for posterity before it was too late! But after some research and rumination, I concluded that regardless of the distinction between the the two terms, almost anyone can write in those genres. Indeed, potential readers might be attracted more to an account by someone who is more like them and relatable rather than the rich and famous .
Perhaps the memoir genre was preferable to autobiography, however, as it usually gives the author the privilege of focussing on certain events or ideas rather than relating an entire life, which was not my intent. And as my book was to commence two generations before I was born, it might not be considered in the traditional autobiographical tradition. But what I really wanted to do recount certain stand-alone commonplace and unusual experiences, influences and emotions which in some way help define who I am as a person, So for what it's worth, I used the plural term life stories in the book's subtitle.
My book is published! I was very pleased to have my book On the Border published by Friesen Press on November 15, 2021. This unique collection of vignettes provides readers with a wonderful opportunity to travel across four continents while sitting at home in their favourite reading chairs, which most of us are doing these days.
Sales to date have been very encouraging, both in Canada and the United States. Readers should check the Bookstore section of this website to see how they can get their copy. The exact date of the early 2022 launch date at Perfect Books on Elgin Street in Ottawa has yet to be set, due partly to the difficult COVID conditions and restrictions we face. I am looking at various additional promotion opportunities including journals, magazines, social media, and radio. My Facebook page should be up soon.
It is interesting to note the relevance of several of my stories (including Espresso at Langano, Compromise in Cambodia, and A Few Thoughts on the Hermit Kingdom) both as world events transpire and as we look back at history. The devastating COVID pandemic and the civil war in Ethiopia, for example, reinforce the importance of humanitarian and development assistance, while the ban on laughing in North Korea continues to fascinate. And after close to 30 years it is valuable to look back at what others are saying about the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia's election efforts of 1993.
My next blog follows in a few days. In the meantime, I wish visitors to my website the best of the holiday season and for 2022. #worldtravel #lifexperiences