Recently I was interviewed about the reasons a national organization for memoir writers is important. This got me talking and thinking about how much I love memoirs and how important I think they are in the world. I didn’t have prepared questions, I just launched in talking about what I’m most passionate about.
1. A memoir is a grass roots way to connect with other people. Everyone feels isolated in his or her own skin from time to time, and we all wonder if others feel like we do. A memoir is our letter to the world, connecting our inner experience with theirs. At its root, it is healing for everyone.
2. A memoir transforms memories, using the imagination and fictional tools, into a work of art. A memoir is not meant to be a factual document like a newspaper article. It remains a merging of art and self, memory and imagination, a way to tell our truths the best way that we can. Yes, there is an honor system embedded in the art form. Most writers I know are careful to represent their realities with respect for others and are not interesting in lying for personal gain.
3. Writing a memoir changes you. It can be healing, inspiring, and challenging, or all of the above. Delving into your memories and sorting through them is a three stage process that leaves you transformed by the end. First, you purge out the old, the pain, the confusion by writing raw—we’ll talk more about that in our teleseminars. Second, you use narrative structure to connect the stories and your own relationship to them as you move to stage three.
In stage three, you find a new perspective about your memories, your stories, and yourself. This is the stage of transformation and integration. We will talk about this too in future seminars.
4. Memoir writers have many reasons to write their stories. Think about what you want in writing your memoir—it can include everything we have already talked about. This might include:
• Personal expression and exploration.
• Writing to remember people in your life who were important to you.
• Writing for your own pleasure—uncovering memories and times in their lives they want to remember.
• Leaving a legacy for family. Many memoir writers create their stories for the enjoyment of telling stories that otherwise would be forgotten and buried.
• Getting your stories published, either online or in print. Reaching out to the world with your stories, insights, and successes.
As a therapist, memoirist, and writing coach, I have helped people with all kinds of memoir writing and guided them through the various stages mentioned above. It is truly a journey to write your memoir, one that is significant and life changing! Write a list of your favorite memories. Create a character sketch of your favorite parent or grandparent. Write about pets, friends, and God.
Be Brave—Write Your Story!