Writing about our lives

We all have a tale to tell. We don't need to have been through a series of extraordinary adventures to write about our world. Told well, even the most (apparently) mundane life can make fascinating reading.

When I first started holding occasional writing courses and workshops for beginners, it was interesting to discover how many people wanted to document all or part of their lives but didn’t have a clue where to start. So I created an autobiographical course – having written about the 25 years of my life prior to coming to France, I felt I had a lot of tips to pass on. The input from those who have done one of my courses, has been invaluable and so I thought I'd schedule another one. For details see my page.

Some think it's an ego-trip. Far from it, the most important ingredients of autobiographical writing are large amounts of honesty; revealing oneself warts and all. No hiding, no self-aggrandising and no slagging others off.

There are too many reasons for writing about ourselves to list here, but others might like to add theirs.

Yes I appreciate that Glyn, I guess I'll just have to take my chances and work hard on promoting my books myself. I'm going to use amazon and smathwoods for the ebook versions and Createspace for print on demand. I've read all the theory and it's shortly time to put it into practice. I'll let you all know how I get on....

I think the fact you've written them is an achievement.

Amazon and Smashwords are a route for self publishing as I'm sure you know. Problem is so many damn books are published there because everyone who can write a shopping list also thinks they can write a book! fiction or non fiction.

Best wishes, Nikki


Don't worry Glyn, I do know what you mean. I just felt a bit down after reading your comment and spending such a long time writing it. It won't be easy to get a publisher because I'm a complete unknown and as you have said it's topic that's been well covered, so will probably opt for self publishing the first book and see how it goes from there. I think my second book will appeal to a wider audience and is something that has not been covered in any great depth. Whatever happens I've enjoyed writing them and hope that they will be of some interest and use to others

Thanks for your comments


I was in a writers group and there were members there who thought that writing about moving the France was going to make a fascinating read. What I think they didn't realise was it had been done to death. I mean these 'authors' I'm thinking about wrote about getting on the eurostar, and going to an estate agents Also I just knew neither would never finish these books and if they did no publisher in their right mind would publish them. You've obviously read around the subject, so I would guess that you know the ground already covered. I think your second book in the series sounds particularly interesting and I would have thought there would be a market for your third.

I won't completely take back what I said, because I think there is a danger for some people that they think their lives are fascinating when in fact they aren't.

But, Nikki, good luck with yours and I hope you get a publisher.

Best wishes


Just wanted to say that I attended one of Sue’s courses about 18 months ago and found it very useful. I'm now pleased to say that after 2 years of working into the early hours and despite having 5 children to care for and 3 businesses to run, I have finally finished writing my first book and just sent it off for editing! It's the first in a series of three books entitled "A Mother in France Experiences" and guess what Glyn, the first in the series is called "Moving to France"!

When we were in the process of moving here 10 years ago I read at least 15 different books about moving to France and not one of them told me what I really wanted to know. They were all written by retirees, minor celebrities or people from a media background telling either humorous tales of their quirky French life or a romanticised description of the "Vie en France". I wanted to know what it was really like for an ordinary family with children and a living to make. So that is exactly what I've written. A personal and honest account of why we decided to move here, the process we went through and what it was like when we got here - warts and all! It took us 20 years to realise our dream, we had to overcome many obstacles and it hasn't been an easy ride since we got here. Making a living for your average family is extremely tough and you have to have a lot of determination, flexibility and guts to survive here.

My second book which is nearing completion is about Raising a Family in France and covers my experiences with 2 pregnancies in France, the education system from maternelle through to University, language learning from the perspective of all 5 children learning to be fluent at different ages, parenting style differences, cultural differences etc.

The third book is about our experiences of starting and running businesses in France. We've developed and run a gite business, run gardening courses, taught English to French students, started a landscaping business, started a garden centre and are in the process of starting an on-line business. So, I've got a lot to share there too.

I think it's a little unfair to say moving to France stories have been done to death. Everyone has different experiences of life and many people are interested, enlightened and inspired by those stories. So I'm sorry Glyn if it offends you that I've written another, but you know what? You don't have to read it! ;)

Yes, a scholarly work would entail a lot of research. I wouldn't want to attempt such a project but admire those who do. I think a quality page-turner is as much to do with structure as a gripping plot and good writing. Not easy either. As for a piece of autobiographical writing, be it a day in the life of or the life of... I believe in tackling it more as a piece of fiction (only in style) than reportage. I also believe that exploring other important characters gives depth and relieves the me, me, me element, which can be a bit tedious. After all, unless we're Robinson Crusoe, we've interacted with a cast of characters who deserve a chance to 'explain' themselves! Naturally we have to be careful here ... permissions, name changes etc. etc. Thanks for the interaction and have a good evening.

I would guess that both are difficult. For example if you were writing a very scholarly work about the Tudors, the research it entails would be very difficult.
At the same time a quality fiction that is a page turner would not be easy.
A memoir, that might appear to be easy would have to be good to hold a reader’s attention.
I’m sure in their own way, each would be as difficult.

I think fiction is much harder.

I would say that non-fiction is easier. Although fiction writers will usually, consciously or unconsciously, draw on their personal experiences and impressions, they still have to construct a plot and make sure it hangs together successfully. What do you think?

Do you think, Sue, that non fiction is easier to write than fiction?

I agree. The people I've helped have come from all over - Australia, Canada, South Africa as well as UK. As far as I remember, they were all writing about their previous lives. Unless someone has something truly unique to say about moving here or has personal stuff that happens to be set here I wouldn't recommend it.

But please, not another I moved to France tale. They've been done to death.