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Writing a memoir when memories are fresh

Love versus Goliath

Love versus Goliath

Memoirs are usually of a time in one’s life that was long ago. A period of childhood, perhaps, or a time migrating to a new land ten or twenty years ago.

Love versus Goliath is a different kind of memoir. Recent. I am not the only person mentioned in this memoir, in fact in many ways I am not even the central character. How do the rest of my family feel about all this?

Each of my family have different reactions and I’m not sure all of them even know how they feel, really.

Mr O Jnr 2 thinks it is “sick”! He has probably been the most “into” it right from the start. He was keen to be in the media photos, the others were not so keen. He wants to be an actor (engineering seems to have lost favour as the career of choice); I think he believes any publicity is good publicity for his future portfolio! :D He is also the one who comes home and tells me the newspaper articles are on the noticeboard at school.

Mr O Jnr 1 is more involved in his part-time job, his budding football career and his studies. He doesn’t say much at all. Besides, he is 15. As any parent of teenagers knows, that says it all!

Miss O 2 just wants the book to sell “lots and lots” so she can have a mini-iPad for her birthday. She does tell me her teacher has read it. Or one of the teachers has read it. I’m not sure who specifically, Miss O 2 is not into the finer details of such things when there is television calling!

Miss O 1 has read some parts, but avoided any publicity shot opportunities. When she saw the actual book I think it finally became real for her and she said it is “really cool, Mum”. :)

I guess for the kids it could be embarrassing. I hope not and I haven’t received any negative feedback. Before I published I made the schools aware, as a precautionary measure.

Mr O tends to ebb and flow. He doesn’t really understand that it takes time for a book to gain traction, especially for a self-published book, and he asks, “Why would anyone be interested in our book? What is it they find interesting?” I know he really doesn’t expect it to be successful. He just doesn’t see himself as being famous at all. In fact, I think the thought of that causes him considerable embarrassment. On the other hand, he’d like the book to be successful. He understands my reasons for writing it and knows the money would certainly come in handy!  Mr O finds the timing of the publishing industry very slow – ebook sales not reported until 45 to 60 days after the sale, for example. He shakes his head at how little an author really gets from each book! Well, he’s not the only one: so did I when I discovered Amazon’s cut of a paperback!

It took me a while to get used to the idea myself. For ages I kept “the book” quiet in my professional circles. The day I put up a status on LinkedIn announcing I had written a book I nearly had a heart attack. THIS IS MY LIFE I am putting out there, it is scary stuff. I totally understand how Mr O is positive one day and hesitant the next.

Plus the memories are fresh, for all of us. This didn’t happen ten or twenty years ago. It all happened over the last nine years for Mr O and the last three years for me. We are still recovering financially, physically and emotionally. I showed the book to a man who works in our building last week. He looked at the photo on the cover and at me and asked how long ago had this all happened as I look so young on the cover. I replied, “Less than three years ago. The battle made me age ten years in one.” Maybe I can get close to that again, I don’t know. Mr O, on the other hand, looks ten years younger than when I met him! Not at all fair, that state of affairs! Having a physical job keeps him fit and healthy.

The problem is this. There is not much point in writing a book with a message and wanting that message to be heard if you don’t stand by your work. So I had to grit my teeth and get on with it. It is hard work emotionally when it is still so fresh. When I spoke at the Continuing Professional Development seminars for migration agents, I knew I was not a dispassionate speaker: far from it. Speaking of certain times in our journey I felt the anger rise in my chest, I heard my voice strengthen and knew my eyes were shooting daggers. I actually apologised, saying “I am sorry for sounding so passionate. As you can tell there is much I am still angry about.”

Writing a book that shares fear and pain, fear and pain that is still fresh, is difficult. I think readers will see that from readers reviews to date. One reader told me she had to keep putting the book down to stop herself picking up the phone (and I don’t think she meant to call me).

If you perceive me as brave for writing this book, for self-publishing, for maintaining this website: believe me when I say every damn moment scares the hell out of me!

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About Team Oyeniyi

We fought to be together as a team, we are now together as a team. Team Oyeniyi

7 comments on “Writing a memoir when memories are fresh

  1. […] A few weeks ago I wrote about writing a memoir when the memories are fresh. […]

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  2. OMG! You did it!!! Congratulations! I am very proud of you! :) :)

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  3. Hope you sell loads of books Robyn. I can understand your journey, even though our immigration process hasn’t been as dramatic as your husbands. You are very brave to put it all out there and to speak against the unfairness of the process.
    My Mom self-published 2 romance novels in Portugal as publishers thought she was too old to sell, (she was in her 60’s) and she sells via facebook, talks in various places, etc. but it all takes time.

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    • Congratulations to your Mum, Sami. I can’t imagine why her age would make any difference to whether her books would sell or not, that is terrible! Bit like my book though – I think traditional publishers think it is a little too controversial and therefore risky to take on. I understand that. Hopefully I can prove them wrong! :wink:

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  4. Hope your book sales are high enough to satisfy Miss O 2 . . .:D

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