The art of memoir is in the crafting of the behind the scenes, the understanding of the unspoken, the delivering of insights to your reader without coming off as a show-off. Strong memoir writing is seduction, seducing the reader to turn one more page. True memoir is thick with the everyday dramas of life, without being tedious, boring or insulting.
Rich memoir is a map to the reader, taking them on a journey that reminds them of something inside themselves. Memoir is about memories that help us better grasp where we’ve been and we’re going. Solid memoirs awaken the reader’s own sense of direction, or at the very least, help them make way for others’ choices.
Memoir that rocks not only reveals the writer’s revelations, but shifts the readers’ awareness, even if just to comfort them with shared experience. If you want to write the kind of memoir that moves people, you’ve got to allow yourself to be moved, nudged and even shoved by life. You’ve got to live it fully. There’s no room for surface dwellers in the realm of real memoir.
Writing memoir requires the same time and effort that other writing does. Of course, it demands showing up on the page. But, memoir isn’t spilled like coffee. It’s sipped and burns like cognac.
A memoir writer who gains rapt attention spends time studying herself, her story, her life. She knows herself in a way that few know themselves. Much of that knowledge comes from painting words on paper, but memoir is more.
It’s cohesion of memories, ideas, lessons, values and visions. It’s wisdom, not only in the words but in the character of the writer behind the words.
As a memoir writer, I’m out to expose myself—not as a flasher, but as a woman who’s put herself under the microscope, fledged through the darkness and awakened to beautiful blessings. A memoir writer must not be afraid of the dark, or shining the light on it.
If you want to write memoir, great memoir, dive in, dig deep. Find the acts behind the curtain. Expose the underbelly of life, but do it in the way that only you can. Shine your light into your darkness and expose the lessons you’ve learned like a grandfather tells tales on a camping trip with the fire snapping in the night. Tell us something worth remembering.