A Memoir is one of the most complex genre of writing due to its demand for details of one’s life spanning a long period of time. The task of writing a memoir draws skill, craft and a good reflection of past life to produce an ideal narrative.
Among the myriads of work in literature covering fiction and non-fiction, not many memoirs can be found because the skill of recollecting past events, throwing lights on them to reveal tragedies that brought about transformation, can be a desert activity for many writers.
The writing of a memoir seems to be a fashion exclusively reserved for notable figures in modern society. The idea behind this is to draw inspiration from the lives of these popular figures. This post-modern tradition is however wrong. A memoir can be written by any individual with a unique experience that can be of positive value to the world.
What is a Memoir?
Think of a memoir as a unique form of autobiography that covers key moments of an individual’s history, bothering on experiences that shaped an individual.
The writer brings past memories to life in order to bring out an overriding theme from which readers can draw key lessons from the writer’s positive values, strength of character, and a unique commitment to maintaining vision and purpose. Sometimes, a memoir could just be “this is all I have gone through that has shaped my beliefs and approach to life.”
What differentiate a memoir from being just an autobiography is its emphasis on impactful moments in a writer’s history.The writer isn’t just giving a chronological narrative of life from birth to adulthood which is an autobiography, but seeks to share a profound message with the world through his own real-life experiences.
Steps to Writing a Good Memoir
1) Identify your purpose for writing:
Blake Morrison of The Guardian (UK) observes that the memoir is written for various degree of purposes: from showoff by celebrities, propaganda by authors trying to effect a change in the society, to genuine purposes of level-headed writers. Whatever the purpose, it is emphatic that your decision to embark on writing a memoir should be for the benefit of the outside world.
2) Make it Cathartic
Some writers write memoirs to relieve themselves of past wounds and pains of history. Getting over some tragic happenings in one’s life might not be easy, thus the need to write it to achieve some relief. African American literature was borne out of this motive; writers in this genre took to writing to ease the hurtful memories of slavery, apart from other reasons.
3) Be conscious of your content:
It’s best to avoid over sensitive details in your story. Try as much as you can to be real without soiling your wounds. When some details begins to draw a bad feeling because it runs foul of public consumption, the image of the writer might be affected, and the purpose of the memoir lost.
4) Seek the opinion of live characters whose story appear in your memoir
You might risk splitting your family apart with your story if family figures appear in your narrative. So if you wish to be honest with your story, seek family consent, as well as persons whose story can be easily identified.
5) Be authentic, at the same time artistic:
Your story should recount honest and authentic experiences that stresses the purpose for which you’re writing. Also, you should demonstrate an artistic use of words, in a fiction-like manner, to avoid getting publishers into trouble.
Contents of a memoir are not subject to verification; thus, it can be artfully arranged and artistically constructed, leading to it being categorized under fiction. George Bernard Shaw opines that autobiographies aren’t authentic, because it tends to hide information regarding families and friends. However, it is unique in it’s entirety, and reveals the society surrounding the writer in it’s naked form.
Memoirs can be compelling, revealing, empowering and overwhelming. Everyone has a book on the inside because life itself serves it’s inhabitants with interconnected experiences. Through memoirs, many have encountered the life of the writer through related experiences, and it has helped to shapen and sharpen their response to the vissicitudes of life.
Do you have a history, hurtful and disturbing, and seem to lose your sleep over it? Then writing a memoir is just what you need to do to gain relief. What are your life’s biggest lessons? Make your construction impactful and didactic by writing, and your legacy will remain evergreen.
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About the author: Jimmy Umana is a content writer and a lover of creative and inspired writings. He also inspires the younger generation in making a conscious impart to the world through creative artistry with special attention to character development. He also inspires young authors through online and offline tutoring sessions.