So….how did me and my partner in writing, write my books…..? 

sorry for the late arrival of this blog today……have had a bad few days and set them for midnight 🙈…..but just spotted it 🙄

Me and Anna Wharton often get asked this question….we sat somewhere together once to do a podcast about this very subject, but goodness knows when or where…..🤔 I’ll txt and ask her…….

It was Anna who started things off by writing her version of events last week for publication. You might want to read her side of the story before you read mine 😂

https://annawharton.substack.com/p/how-do-you-write-a-memoir-when-you

So this is me writing my version without looking at anything else I’ve written on the subject….so what I can remember today…😂

I’d been asked by several publishers whether I would be interested in writing a book. While the idea appealed, the practicalities didn’t. I envisaged me trawling backwards and from each page, trying to work out if I’d repeated myself….no, it wouldn’t have worked on my own.

Then one day out of the blue following a video I’d made for some magazine I think 🤔…I received an email in my inbox from a ‘ghost writer’ by the name of Anna Wharton. I now wish I’d kept that first email, after all, that was the start of our writing partnership that was going to change our lives. The problem was, at the time, I’d never heard of a ‘ghost writer’.

 I wondered what on earth somebody who wrote ghost stories could do for me 😳🤣😂. It was probably one of my daughters who put me right 🙄 don’t know if I’ve told that to Anna before 🤔😂

From what I have in my head, she thought we could write a book she’d wished she had when her father was alive in her twenties. He also had dementia.

Curiosity got the better of me and we started the conversation. I felt immensely nervous yet also excited at the thought, after all, I’d be sharing my inner most feelings with someone, who at this time, was a complete stranger. I had to feel comfortable with her and feel that sense of trust worthiness so we agreed to meet. It was in London, Kings Cross station. I was heading for a conference somewhere so we’d only meet briefly, but first meetings are very important to me now – how they make me feel.

I havn’t a clue what we spoke about or where we went for our chat, but the image I’m still left with now is of a big smiley face and a whacky coat – I felt we clicked immediately. 

Anna’s ghost writer friends were astonished she was willing to take me on 🤣…after all, how do you write a book with someone who has a failing memory?

The first book, Somebody I Used to Know, in my head, was written mostly via WhatsApp and email…..it was my introduction to emojis and I used lots of them …😳🙈😱👍💩….and all the others in existence at the time, I’m sure. 

Anna taught me so much about the process of writing. I like to think I’ve changed my writing style lots since those first days and for the better. The most important thing she rammed home to me each day was the need for detail, ‘detail to add colour to the writing’. A txt would come ping on my phone and the words:

Now you know I’m going to ask you for detail”

And my response would inevitably be …..🙈🤯😂

We shared a whole 2 years of our lives talking most days via WhatsApp. It was the fact she opened up about her life as well as listening to mine which made it feel like a friendship instead of simply a writing partnership. I remember being at a loss when the book was finished, feeling I’d lose that daily contact which had become part of my routine, but the simple truth is, I didn’t. We carried on txting and having updates from each other. So when the idea of a second book appeared, it was easy to fall into the routine of writing again. I knew Anna, she knew me – we understood our foibles and accepted them🤣

The second book, What I wish people knew about dementia’ is very different from the first. It was a challenge for us both to find the right structure from the beginning. Anna hated it when I mentioned research for my first book seeing it as a flat dull subject to write about but for this one, her thirst for links were very demanding and continual. My poor professor friends would be hounded by me in order to give Anna what she was looking for 🤣

But what was more of a joy with this book, was she could meet some of my playmates. (Oh by the way, I wasn’t allowed to call them ‘playmates’ in my book. I stood my ground against the publishers views for so long with the emails flying backwards and forwards in email space. Then one day they explained why and I had to agree. Whilst my playmates know me and know my affectionate term for them all, the general public at large who have never heard of me, don’t. They may think I’m dumbing them down and being derogatory. So I finally secumbed and agreed to the replacement word of ‘friends’.

My playmates at Minds and Voices had to cope with our weekly zoom meetings (as it was during Covid) being hijacked by me asking them questions and their thoughts and experiences on certain subjects. For the 3 Amigos, Anna joined in the fun herself and simply loved listening to our chatter and every now and then, remind us she was there as we went off piste 😂

The only thing which would make me anxious was …..Anna works best under pressure….😳…and I don’t 🤯…..so deadlines would be approaching in my mind and to Anna they were days away 😂….we compromised as always. I worried less and less about her lack of doing, knowing full well that the outcome would be wonderful, simply because she’d written it under pressure. I’d have done my bit and just had to sit back and wait for the magic to be written……

So here we are still, partners in writing, with a second book approaching publication date. In normal circumstances, the ghost writer is suppose to fade into the background and the other take all the credit, but how could I possibly allow that to happen? Without Anna, none of my words would have been written. so for me it’s a partnership, 50/50. Anna is my partner in writing, we’re a team and I’m soooo grateful for that first email that started our friendship.

Will my new book be a success? Well we’re just boarding the roller coaster once more to find out…….

Ooooo yes, and Anna replied to my txt I sent at the beginning of this so here’s the link if you want to hear us chatting. Where did she find it? On my blog 🤣…..hopefully it won’t be totally different from what I’ve just written 😳🙄😂

https://www.theguardian.com/books/audio/2018/feb/20/do-our-memories-make-us-who-we-are-books-podcast

About wendy7713

On the 31st July 2014 I was diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia. I may not have much of a short term memory anymore but that date is one I’ll never forget. I’m 58 years young, live happily alone in Yorkshire, have 2 daughters and I’m currently still in full time employment in the NHS. However, I’m now in the process of taking early retirement to give me a chance of enjoying life while I’m still me. I've started this blog to allow me, in the first instance, to write all my thoughts before they’re lost. If anyone chooses to follow my ramblings it will serve as a way of raising awareness on the lack of research into Alzheimer's. It will hopefully convey the helplessness of those diagnosed with dementia, as there is no cure – the end is inevitable. However, I’m also hoping I can convey that, although we've been diagnosed, people like me still have a substantial contribution to make; we still have a sense of humour; we sill have feelings. I’m hoping to show the reality of trying to cope on a day to day basis with the ever-changing environment that dementia throws at those diagnosed with the condition. What I want is not sympathy. What I want is simply to raise awareness.

7 thoughts on “So….how did me and my partner in writing, write my books…..? 

  1. Hello Wendy. I’ve just read this blog entry and listened to the Guardian podcast. A great listen. I can’t remember when I first heard an interview with you, but it inspired me to read your book and I’ve been interested in your life ever since. So glad you’re still going strong

    Liked by 1 person

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