Collating Women’s Memories From Service In RNZN

Venturing Into Non-Fiction With Women’s Memories

My comfort zone has been sorely tested over the last few months as I ventured into the field of non-fiction writing. I’ve prepared a book on women’s memories from their service time in the Royal New Zealand Navy. Romance writing and everything connected to it has been neglected. This website, my blog, my social media outlets, they all took a back seat. The project took more time and energy than I expected.

Some years ago a group I belong to, and am very passionate about, the Royal New Zealand Naval Women’s Association, realised with our older membership numbers diminishing we stood to lose much of our history. So the Association encouraged members to write down some memories of their time in the Navy.

I guess my interest in the women’s part of New Zealand’s naval history, and my experience as a writer meant I took on the role of organising the women’s memories. With no non-fiction writing experience I nervously began the task.

It has been a very slow and somewhat haphazard task. First I needed to find as many stories already recorded by members. I found dog-eared papers in bags and stuffed in unrelated books. Some women’s memories had been published in Association newsletters or slipped into minute books and other random places; a couple of older members had collected friends’ memories and had them stuffed into envelopes. Memories were in longhand and typed. Ladies posted and emailed me more memories as I solicited more articles. The relating paperwork was generally one big mess and took over every space in my office. Even with my husband’s help, it took a long time to get each of these papers prepared in a digital format.

Collecting all the personal written information I could find was merely the first step. How to collate it into something meaningful was my project and it’s taken the best part of six months to get organised.


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