Writing Memoir

January 10, 2010 at 7:29 pm (Memoir) (, , , , )

“Sometimes my memory’s a liar. Sometimes it’s merely asleep at the switch. I’m not inclined to trust it unequivocally, and yet I have to if I’m going to write about early times.” (p. x)

As many of you have probably noticed by now, much of this blog contains my memoirs.  I like to write about how I perceive all these events that make up my life. This blog is written by me about things I like to imagine that I have an intimate knowledge of.  Okay, I probably have an intimate, unequivocal knowledge of.  My memoir writings are based on my personal observation and my observations and interpretations alone. Anyone else describing the same event would do so differently.

Why am I telling you this? Because I write memoir and I’m trying to do so in an honest and fair way; which is hard, which may be impossible. Right now, 90% of my family is unaware of my blog. I don’t know when I’ll tell them about it. But each day it is harder and harder to stay silent. I communicate best through the written word and I’d like their (unequivocal) input on my writing. I am a writer. I write. I want to be read. I want to be read and understood by the people I care about. Is this possible? Is it possible to blog honestly about my life knowing that those others involved in the stories are also reading and judging?

Googling memoir writing gets me over 7 million hits. Like this journal, and this lesson plan, and this link to memoirs written by others. Adding blog to my search term gives me over16 million hits. Six word memoirs are really popular right now. My university recently did them as a contest. Wow.

I found a new resource and now must make time to explore this.

What an overabundance of talking about ourselves.  I don’t know about you but I was taught that it was impolite to talk this much about ones’ self. I was taught to be polite; that it is better to say nothing. So, all my life, I have been silent.

Lying is done with words and also with silence.  Adrienne Rich

No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow. Alice Walker

Memoir writing is a growing field as we baby boomers age…we like to talk about ourselves, don’t we? Though, for me, it’s not a new field. I’ve always been over introspective.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King, Jr

I write memoir, not autobiography.

An autobiography is the story of an entire life, but a memoir is just one story from that life.

I don’t presume that this is the truth, the whole truth or the absolute truth. It is what it is. It is how I see things.

“Remembering, I’ve discovered, is curious work. The memory is a house in which there are many mansions; enter into one of them, and a hidden door can spring open, luring you into a portion of the past you haven’t visited in years.” (p. xv)

The older I get the more I realize how many stories have been lost because of perceived or chosen silences. I want to know all the stories, good, bad, indifferent, of my ancestors. So, many of them or gone or going and I still choose to be too polite face to face.

“I thought of asking my mother…but I kept forgetting…and then she was gone, and that became one more question I’d never be able to ask.” (p. 36)

So, I say to my family and friends; “Let me tell my stories. Participate if you want to. I can no longer be silent.”

I’m exhausted from not talking. Sam Goldwyn


Quotes with page numbers taken from:

Step By Step: A Pedestrian Memoir
by Lawrence Block
New York: Willam Morrow, 2009

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1 Comment

  1. Kathy said,

    Interesting discussion on memoir, gigi. By the way, the first blog I wrote had only five readers: my husband, two kids and two friends. Did not tell my parents and extended family. The second blog was more spiritual and I still really don’t let family members in on that one. But the wordpress ones are open to the whole family (the WHOLE family) and that has been very very interesting. Like, how do you write when you know your mother-in-law is reading? I used to show different sides of myself to different people…but through this blog have learned to show at least one side to all people, whoever is reading. So I only publish tidbits which everyone can read. Thank you for writing this blog! by the way, I seem to have misplaced your blog address on my new blogroll. Will add it right now.

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