Friday, August 19, 2016

Wrting Your Memoir



Writing a memoir is high on the trend ladder right now. Yesterday, I read about a 35 year old man who has completed his memoir. Unusual for anyone to complete a memoir after a mere 35 years of living, but it seems this man did a whole lot of living in those three and a half decades. Much of it was negative but ends up on the positive side. His memoir is meant to be an example to others rather than a treasured story. 

Today's poster is the perfect springboard for memoir writers. My initial thought was that there are also a good many events or situations in our lives that we might not want to revisit. I do know, from experience, that writing about the bad things that happen is an aid to healing. This kind of writing can also allow us to look at whatever happened a bit more objectively which can lead to better understanding. All that adds up to a positive.

The biggest obstacle for those who would like to write a memoir is often Where do I begin? It's not necessary to begin with the day you were born. Nor is it necessary to think you have to write an entire book. Try writing bits and pieces instead. Write a story about the time you visited a grandparent you'd never met before. Write another story about the time you didn't make team captain in your chosen sport. Write a story about the day you met the person you would eventually marry. Write lots of stories about your life and keep them in a file. As the file grows, so will the base for your memoir book.

My annual state authors contest has a category for Memoir. That category receives the greatest number of entries in the contest. Why? Unlike fiction, memoir stories have happened and all the writer needs to do is bring them to mind and write about whatever occurred. To be a winner, however, the writer must present the story with all the tools he/she has in the writer's kit bag. The story needs to capture the reader (and the judge!). It needs to be written with sensory details, pleasing phrases, active verbs and more. Another reason is that we like to revisit our childhood or early adulthood memories--to feel a few things twice, as the poster says.

A memoir should not only entertain; the reader should gain some lesson or insight. It's much the same as writing the personal essay where a universal truth should be revealed somewhere within the essay's story. 

When you've finished writing a part, or all, of your memoir, look at it as objectively as you can. Ask yourself what others might gain from reading it. What might a reader relate to? What life lesson is there for the reader to see? Is there any emotion present--joy, sorrow, humor, anger and more? 

It's not only celebrities who can write a publishable memoir. You can, too. Or, you can write your memoir as a legacy to leave for your family members. I keep a hard copy of all that I write in a large loose leaf binder; actually, there are two filled at this point. I divided the writing into sections. One of them is Family Stories. My memoir section! 

There are many websites that give definition to memoir vs autobiography. Take a look at one of them. Note that the memoir is a more personal account. Being personal is the main reason I prefer memoir. How about you? Do you read them? Do you write memoir pieces? 

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