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  • Writer's pictureTim O'Sullivan

The Story Of The Story Of My Life



When I’m asked how I got started writing my autobiography I always emphasise that when I started it really wasn’t about writing my memoirs, I just wanted to capture all the funny stories that have happened throughout my life. I have a great memory and my mum did too. I suppose that’s one of the better qualities I got from her. I just started by recording all my stories on a dictaphone. My son, Ryan, later got involved and said, “Dad, what you’ve got to do is start with the first few years, write it all down starting with your time at infant school. First communion, that sort of thing.” He plotted it all out and so I went back to the dictaphone and started from the beginning.


As it happened, I knew a couple of people who had ambitions of becoming writers. They told me I should take it more seriously than I was. To be honest, I wasn’t taking it seriously at all and wasn’t too interested in writing a book. All I wanted was to preserve our family stories so they wouldn’t become forgotten and lost. At the time I just thought, “well, I’ve recorded these memories onto a dictaphone, so they’re safe”. So, from there, with some pointers from these two wannabe writers, the recordings on my dictaphone became a book.


Before I knew it, roughly a couple of years had passed by and I hadn’t done anything with the manuscript. It had just been lying around while I was busy dealing with my prostate cancer. Pam took matters into her own hands and ended up lighting a fire under me again. She took the manuscript to a printer and had the whole thing printed out nicely. She wrapped it up and gave it to me on Christmas Day. I wasn’t expecting it at all and it turned out to be a very emotional moment to have all these stories printed and bound so neatly and professionally.


At that time, the book was still half-finished, it was nothing like it is now. When I saw what Pam had done, I looked through the book again and realised that I had to put my whole life story in there, not just the stuff that happened when John, Mary and I were children. And so that’s what I did. I wanted to preserve our stories for later generations. As I started to take it seriously and put more stories and details into the book, I began to think of it as my history as an Irish immigrant and the story of how the O’Sullivans began life in Leicester.


Although I’d gone beyond just recording the stories on a dictaphone to writing a book, I still hadn’t envisioned anything more than printing a few copies to give out to the family. But then it sort of ballooned and took off. I had no idea that we would be at this stage of selling books all over the world and getting so many fantastic reviews. I’ve been very surprised by the interest in the book and the appreciation it’s received. People I see regularly have called it hilarious. But I’ve also had people, who I hadn’t heard from in years, getting in touch with me to tell me what a brilliant book it is, as well as people I don’t know at all, and people of the Irish diaspora.


I am not an author. I am a storyteller. Maybe those are the same thing, I don’t know. But what I do know is that I had not planned for my memories and stories spoken into a dictaphone to result in a fully-fledged book with hundreds of sales and so many positive reviews. It’s just another instance of life surprising me, as if all the events in my life weren’t surprising enough!


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