Sizzling Beef

Memories are what makes us. I love nothing more than a bit of escapism in front of CSI or some such drama and can say that most of those who commit the crimes have been deeply affected by their memories, usually of childhood. I know it’s only TV but whole tranches of psychologists and such like earn their crust through bringing back memories, or providing therapy to those who need to deal with ugly memories. This is the dark side, but the reason for my post is to encourage you to embrace your memories and if you are a writer, use them. I recall being advised if that is too uncomfortable then change the era, or the sex of the character, or the physical location of the tale. It can be a quick glimpse through a minor event in a novel, through to a fully blown memoir, whatever your chosen form of communication and literary challenge.

Use a note book, if you dream scribble it down. I am a firm believer in that one as I dream constantly, and last night had a great idea but didn’t write it down, convinced it was that brilliant I wouldn’t forget it, and guess what…yep…gone! The old memory trick failed me, and regularly does…WRITE IT DOWN…it isn’t stereotypical advice for no reason.

Memories can be triggered by such diverse things, such minute detail we don’t even recall it the first time round but it’s there, deep within. Trauma seemingly even deeper, apparently phobias, or now seemingly called anxieties, grow from a fertile age around 8 so if you got surprised by a burst balloon at that age it’s perfectly reasonable to be scared of them. I assume I met a clown in my 8th year as they don’t impress me AT ALL!

I have a rubbish memory of my childhood, my partner remembers everything, so don’t be worried whether it’s near the surface or not, we both had happy childhoods. You may find your memories lie deep within and require coaxing, music will do that one, or triggered by the smallest thing; the sound of a wood pigeon always takes me back to our childhood camp site.

I hope you will use this advice carefully. I would hate to bring more bad memories, if so talk to someone, but hopefully you can get a pad and a pen, switch on an old CD or pull on an old sweater and write down some thoughts. They will come in useful one day, maybe sooner than you think.

Sizzling beef? I can’t deny that when ever I get served sizzling beef in a restaurant it reminds me of washing! I know, explanation required…Monday was wash day in our home, Mum got out the twin tub and the wringer (remember getting the blooming bedding tangled so it went round and round and round, so you had to grab it with the wooden tong things and pull it away from the boiling water and it splashed over?) As she was busy, and we didn’t waste food (you didn’t in those days) we had left over meat from the Sunday roast cut into strips (hence the similarity to sizzling beef) and fried with the left over potatoes, cabbage (bubble and squeak) and gravy. So I ate beef whilst the steam from the washing and the smell of the washing powder infiltrated my bones and memory bank.

Share a memory with me, especially if it’s triggered by food…


About Christie Adams, Writer

I'm a writer and creativity coach, I inspire and support busy men and women to become happy, balanced productive writers and creatives. My passion is to share motivation, inspiration, products and coaching to empower men and women, enabling them to find the time to reinvent themselves, redefine their ambitions and indulge their creativity.
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4 Responses to Sizzling Beef

  1. When I was a child I spent a year living in the French Alps, we had goats and we made goats cheese. We made enough goats cheese at one time to last the whole year, and it was a daily staple. By the end of the year, it was so strong tasting as you can imagine (and probably explains why I have such a strong stomach as an adult!). If I ever have any goats cheese the taste is so poignant and reminiscent of that year. I do actually have a very good memory of my childhood, going back to very young, and I often think I should use the memories in my writing.

    • You can use such strong thoughts, just start including them, maybe as characters memories?

    • I find I often use my memories within writing – after all – where else do we get our material from?

      But I do find that writing a ‘biographical’ piece doesn’t suit me – I need to be able to see what is happening from the outside – if that makes sense – as well as the inside. When I look back on my own experiences, I find it too hard to separate myself from what happened.

      I guess another reason is that the strong memories I have of specific events are often too self contained and hard to integrate with a story. However, they can work very well to add some realistic details to a story.

      To give an example, I had a character eat some ‘lion’s head meatballs’, which I described partly from a recipe I found, also from my own interest in cooking and also from eating prawn wontons. So even though I used a memory, it wasn’t a literal telling of my own experience, it was adapted to fit the situation.

      Best wishes

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