How to write your memoirs

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Member Ren Lexander mentions the review he previously wrote about Rosey Bensley’s memoir, “It’s Not All Rosey” as he introduces her to her PCEC audience.
Member Ren Lexander mentions the review he previously wrote about Rosey Bensley’s memoir, “It’s Not All Rosey” as he introduces her to her PCEC audience.

Rosemary (Rosey) Bensley, author of her memoirs, “It’s Not All Rosey”, spoke to the Pattaya City Expats Club on May 28. She provided advice on how to write a memoir by explaining how she wrote hers. She began her memoir with a car crash that changed her life forever. Two people are dead and two survived. She was left wondering why she was spared and her loved ones did not. This tragic beginning set off Rosemary’s rags-to-riches story.

“It’s Not All Rosey” is a true story, describing the recurring trauma experienced by Rosemary and her incredible strength to recover from each episode. Her story is so extraordinary in its tragedy; you couldn’t make it up. A review previously written by PCEC member Ren Lexander states: “Let Rosey take you by the hand and lead you on an enchanting journey through her life. Sometimes this is a delightful meandering, then, very suddenly, a corner is turned and it becomes a head-first plunge into the blackest of nights. Each of us can relate to a life that isn’t all a bed of roses and is sometimes an undeserved crown of thorns. As the pages turn, you will feel as if you are making a wonderful new friend.”

After leaving school in 1970 at age 16, she joined a clothing transport company as an office junior and discovered she loved work – her expertise was in accounting and people skills. With no qualifications, she progressed to Finance Director when she was 35 and soon after that, to Managing Director. Her career spanned 42 years working for various companies. The pinnacle of her career was in 2011 when she was East of England Businesswoman of the Year. She retired from business in 2012 and went on to write her memoir, which was published in February 2017.

Rosey Bensley describes her motivation to write her memoirs, how she initially did not plan to publish them until encouraged by others, and offered tips on how to go about writing your own memoirs.
Rosey Bensley describes her motivation to write her memoirs, how she initially did not plan to publish them until encouraged by others, and offered tips on how to go about writing your own memoirs.

Rosey talked about the process of writing her memoir and her motivations. The car crash and other dramas in her life triggered her writing and the need to express herself. She never thought about publishing a book, in the beginning, she just wanted to document her life and to leave her story for her loved-ones to read after she passed. Her journey has been cathartic and has reunited her with friends and family after 35 years. The initial transcript contained 155,000 words and she quickly realized that she needed some professional writing help. After working directly with four publishers, she decided to use the skills of literary agents.

The sequence of her writing began with the most recent events, those that she had the best recollections and worked backwards from there. She elicited friends and family to joggle her memory of events that she had simply forgotten and in the process, became reacquainted with long lost friends. In the end, the memoir is simply a sharing of a life story, who you are, what you went through, lessons learned and perhaps providing some wisdom and benefit from your experience, for others.

A memoir is different from an autobiography. A memoir is less formal and is more concerned with the emotions rather than just history, dates and facts. Rosey chronicled her life by selecting the most significant moments from each stage of her life. She starts with the story of a horrific car crash. She was only slightly injured but two of her closest loved-ones died in the horrible accident. This event is just one of several events that shaped her world.

Rosie recounts events that changed her, mostly involving relationships with men, including family, husbands and boyfriends. None of us go unscathed in life and it might be wise to try to write your thoughts, make some sense out of your existence. Until you sit down and analyze what you were thinking, at the time, and put them down into words, you never really understand what really happened and why you reacted as you did. Time heals all pain but if you never really go back and think about your life, you may never fully understand the decisions you made and you may never learn from them, the good or the bad. It’s important to confront the truth. More importantly, others you care about may not learn from your experiences either, unless you provide a written record.

MC Roy Albiston presents the PCEC’s Certificate of Appreciation to Rosey Bensley for her inspiring talk about how she wrote her memoirs and her advice to others on how to go about the process.
MC Roy Albiston presents the PCEC’s Certificate of Appreciation to Rosey Bensley for her inspiring talk about how she wrote her memoirs and her advice to others on how to go about the process.

She talks about some of the mechanics of writing and detailed questions that need to be asked, throughout the process. One must answer the basic questions of: who, what, when where, why and how? Who do you want to write about? Obviously, it is going to be about yourself, but who else? Do you really need to talk about everyone or just those that had the greatest influence in your life? What are the triggers to start writing? What drives you to talk about the important events of your life? When do you write? The mood must be right, to dig into the raw emotions. The sequence is not all that important, in the beginning, that can be adjusted during the editing. Just write about the things you want to think about, at the time. Where do you write? Everyone has a different idea of an ideal location. Do it where you are comfortable. Rosie chose a beach resort area, Jomtien, Thailand.

Member Ren Lexander interviews Rosey Bensley about her presentation to the PCEC. To see the video, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=824cfDWFl1k
Member Ren Lexander interviews Rosey Bensley about her presentation to the PCEC. To see the video, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=824cfDWFl1k

Why do you decide to write about your life? Think about your motivation. If you are not properly motivated you may never get started and likely you will never finish. Think about the reasons you put yourself through the process, and remind yourself, constantly. Understand that issues such as “writer’s block” will inevitability occur and you need to think of ways to deal with this and other stumbling blocks, before they happen. Just accept the reality and plan ways to get around them, ahead of time. Most of all, enjoy the experience!

After the presentation, MC Roy Albiston brought everyone up to date on upcoming events. This was followed by the “Open Forum” portion of the meeting, where questions are asked and answered and comments made about expat living in Thailand.

For more information on the Club and their activities, visit www.pcec.club.