Thursday, June 9, 2016

Many Facets To Memoir Writing




I saw this poster on facebook today and my first thought was This is one reason why we write memoir. I've heard it said that memoir writing came about because we want to taste certain things in life more than once. It also helps us look back with a different perspective and gain better understanding of something that occurred in our earlier life. 

Full memoir books have been a popular trend for quite some time now. Readers like to look into the life happenings of someone. It's a legal way of being a Peeping Tom, perhaps. We read them and compare the author's life to our own. If the author happens to be a celebrated name, his/her book is going to garner more interest than if Susie Jones who was a teacher for 60 years writes her memoir book. Other teachers might pick up Susie Jones' book because it's a topic they can relate to but how many others would do so?

It's also the memoir books that tell of trials and tribulations that soar to the top of the bestseller list. Who can forget Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt? This heart-tugging memoir is still considered one of the top memoir books. Part of the reason is the abject poverty portrayed and part of it is the skill of the author in presenting his life story. 

That is an important point. No matter how good the material for the book is, it also takes a skillful writer to present it so that readers want to keep turning the pages. Emotion, sensory details, description, visual images--all these create a better story.

You need not write a full memoir book. Take one incident and write a shorter piece. These shorter memoir snapshots can be contest entries or magazine stories or featured on a blog or website. It's tough to tackle an entire book but do it one episode of your life at a time and it's easier. 

How do you begin? Do you just dive in without any instruction? Some do but I'd suggest doing some reading about how we write memoirs. One of the better sites I've found is one that addresses womens' memoirs. Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett give valuable tips, run contests and video seminars through their website. Gentlemen--you can gain something from this website and the newsletter that you can sign up for, too. 

I often urge you to write your family stories--just another kind of memoir. Write about something that you want to feel again, as today's poster says. Write about something you might not have understood long ago to gain a different perspective on it. We write memoir as much for our personal satisfaction as we do for other readers. 

Yes, there are things you would like to feel twice, so write about them. There are also some you might like to keep hidden in the recesses of your mind. Even so, try writing about those events, too, so that you can gain insight, start some healing and ease the pain of whatever happened. 

Memoir writing is worth a try. Many people think their life was pretty boring; they wonder who would want to read about it. Maybe it's not as boring as you think and maybe the way you present it makes a difference, too. Something to ponder and read about before you tackle memoir writing. 

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