Monday, May 20, 2013
You Are A Story. Write it!
The quote above speaks to me about the importance of each of us writing our own story. You know how often I harp on writing down those family stories so that future generations of your family will have them. It's why I've suggested we all have Memory Books that we can add to on a continuous basis.
Maybe there's more than just those fun family stories to be written. How about writing your own story about you? Memoir has become a strong genre in the past decade or so. More and more people write memoirs and seek a publisher. Who would want to read about me? you might be thinking. Even though many memoir books are about well-known people, there are plenty of them about simple everyday folk like you and me.
Memoir is different from a biography in the respect that a biography tells an entire life story, while a memoir might only focus on certain periods, often uses a theme. Memoir is written in first person and is narrative.
Your story would be filled with both the joys and the disappointments you've encountered. Perhaps it would include a tragic happening. It might center on the relationship you had with others in your family--both the good and the bad. No tragedy in your life? That's great, but I bet you have enough hills and valleys in the years you've lived to be able to write something of interest to those who know you and maybe to those who don't.
If you keep a Memory Book and add to it now and then, you're actually putting together a memoir, one that might not go in chronological order. Who says it has to start with Day 1 of your life and move on day by day? In fact, if done that way, it can end up being a bit boring.
If you're going to write your story, the story about you, keep in mind that you can use the same techniques as you would in writing a fiction piece. Give the reader a sense of place--let them see the area you grew up in, then maybe where you spend your adult life. The name of the town and state, or country, is not enough. Let your reader feel that place. You know it well, you lived there but you have to let others see it, too.
Use dialogue in part of your memoir. It adds interest, makes people seem more real. Along with that, think about characterization. Just as a novelist creates a character that the reader can see in a mental image, you can write about the people who influenced you in some way with more than a name and giving them a label. Make your readers see them as you did.
Use sensory details and allow your emotions to come forth in your writing. If you don't, it will be flat. It's not always easy to unleash your emotions when writing about yourself. It's something you may need to work on.
My last point here is one made in the poster/quote. Make your memoir about what in your life changed you in some way? Good or bad, large or small--that doesn't matter. I can think of several things in my life that changed me as a person.