It gives me great pleasure today to invite author, Valerie Poore, over to Patricia’s Pen to discuss her non fiction writing. Without further ado, it’s over to Valerie.
Anyone can write a memoir.
That’s a bold statement, isn’t it?
Even so, I think it’s true – although most people I speak to are convinced their life hasn’t been interesting enough to write about. I’d actually challenge that though. In my encounters with the great variety of individuals I meet in my job as a freelance teacher, I’ve learned that nearly everyone has some kind of interesting story to tell. And if that’s the case, then in theory everyone has the potential to write a memoir. I have to say I love reading them too, which in turn means that I also enjoy writing them.
But what was it that inspired me to write my own memoirs and why did I do it?
My first book, African Ways, was inspired by Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence. I read it in 2005 after I’d been living in the Netherlands for a few years and as I read, I was reminded of the wonderful rural people I’d known and loved while living in South Africa during the 1980s and 1990s.
It occurred to me that rural people are similar wherever you go, whether in France, England, Spain or Africa. I knew I’d had a special introduction to South Africa on a farm in what is now KwaZulu Natal. So, when I finished Peter Mayle’s book, I realised I wanted to write about the people I’d known there and what it was like to move from the mod-cons of 1980s UK to a somewhat primitive rural environment.
This idea was my prompt to start writing, and since African Ways, I’ve written two other memoirs about my life in South Africa and five about living and travelling on a barge in northern Europe. Each of these books covers a specific period but none of them is a complete autobiography so I’ve been able to focus on different aspects of where I’ve lived and what I do.
I can’t say I set out to lead the life I have as I’m something of an accidental traveller. I also didn’t actually intend to write so many memoirs. But what I’ve noticed is that people are interested in other people’s experiences if they’re different from their own, so transferring from a remote African farm to Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest, baddest city was another adventure to share. And then moving back across the world to land up (or water up) on an old barge in the Netherlands was added fuel for my writing hobby.
My destinations have at least been unusual and because I adored South Africa, I could write about it with immense affection. The same goes for my watery world. Restoring an old and decrepit Dutch barge and converting it to a home was a huge learning curve, but I loved and still love it. In fact, my latest boating travelogue about our pre-Covid travels to France is just about to be launched and I write about our boating life regularly on my blog.
About Valerie Poore
Val Poore was born and raised in England but at the end of 1981, she moved to South Africa where she and her family lived for nearly twenty years. She adored South Africa, but had to return to Europe in 2001. Since then, she’s been working as a freelance ESL writing skills teacher in the Netherlands. Val shares her time between a 120-year-old barge in Rotterdam and a cottage in Zeeland, both of which seem to take an inordinate amount of time to maintain. As a distraction from teaching, she writes and has written a total of eleven books.
Links to Social Media