Youth and exile: writing a memoir
Having discovered (with a little help from my friends) where WordPress had hidden its old user-friendly editor, I’m posting this here rather than in my old Notes from Underground blog.
A couple of weeks ago I reviewed this book:
You can read my review here.
There I noted that Coetzee’s book was almost the story of my life, and mentioned some of the possibly interesting bits that he had left out, and someone left a comment to the effect that if I wrote my own version of the story, he would definitely buy it.
It’s a bit risky to start writing a book on the strength of one promise to buy it, but that’s exactly what I’m doing, with a provisional title of Youth and exile. You could say that my review of Coetzee’s book also contains the outline or summary of my own.
I’m also writing it using a tool I haven’t used before — Papel.
Papel is a kind of writer’s editor, where you can write stuff as you feel inspired to do, then move it around and link it later, and finally pull it into a word processor for polishing. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, things go quickly, and, as promised, it lets you just write, and leave the sorting, formatting and arranging for later. I find that creative writing goes better when you separate the writing and the editing processes, and Papel does that rather well.
Unlike Coetzee, I won’t be writing a fictionalised account. That would be too difficult, but it does entail certain limitations. Because some of the other people mentioned in my story are still living, and might possibly even read it, one cannot go into all the details of personal relationships that Coetzee does, even if only from the protagonist’s point of view.
But, Dana Ames, if you are reading this, and get impatient for me to finish it, you can always have a go at my fiction set in the immediately preceding period. You can find more about it here: