From My Perspective: Why Write A Memoir?

One of the things that I hope to have in my stocking this year is a book called “You Don’t Have To Be Famous: How to Write Your Life Story”. Just reading the title made me want to buy this book. My last entry was the intro to my memoir, and I wanted to expand on reasons why it is a great idea for anybody in the world to write a memoir. Everybody goes through a hard time in their life, whether it is a break up with someone, a struggle with a disease or drug addiction, or the death of a family member. The most famous memoir ever written was “Night” by Elie Wiesel. The book was about the terrible experiences he went through during the Holocaust. You also saw my review of John Elder Robison’s “Look Me In The Eye”. This book talked about his life with Asperger’s Syndrome. I wanted to write this blog to encourage as many people as I can to write a memoir. As I said in the intro to my life story, it does not matter if it is published or not, you will be proud that you wrote it once it is complete. Writing a book will take more time than writing a blog would, but all the hard work will pay off when you are finally finished with it. Here I am going to talk about reasons why you should write it. I will also write this blog to inform you of the “dont’s” if you are considering having the memoir published.

One of the things I absolutely dreaded when I went through counseling sessions because of my depression and social anxiety was having to sit for two hours and talk about my feelings about the situation. If you are going through any kind of hard time in your life it is not easy to talk about it around other people. My freshman year in high school we listened to a World War II veteran from Freeport speak, and I could tell that he was about to tear up. Those bad memories from the war most likely still upset him today, and they probably will for the rest of his life. It a lot of guts to go up there and talk about something as extreme as a war. I dreaded “social skills” groups because they were entirely too structured and mundane. Pretty much everything you did was planned, and the staff members were expected¬†to do it with the group members, even if it wasn’t something they didn’t like. A synonym for the word “mundane” is ordinary. I think the “normal” teenagers are the boring ones. Writing a memoir will hopefully convince people who I am proud to be an Aspergian, even though I have to deal with all the social politics in high school. My memoir will hopefully convince all people who it is better to be different then to be an “average joe”. My point in this paragraph is to inform you that it is easier to write about an experience than talk about it in front of a lot of people. Writing is an awesome way to inform people about your life. I have gotten comments on my other blogs telling me they never knew I had Asperger’s Syndrome, and they never thought that I would be able to write the way I do. Writing my blogs has given people a chance to know me better, and hopefully writing a memoir will give them a chance to know me even more.

The second question you are probably asking yourself is “what all should I include in my memoir?”. The most difficult part of writing anything is getting started. Don’t feel bad about thinking this way, I am sure every author out there has a difficulty coming up with how to start and what all to include. But first, I must say that a memoir is different from an auto biography. An auto biography is simply writing your own story. It just talks about events in your life all the way up to now. A memoir, however is pretty much a novel about ones own experiences throughout life. A memoir is supposed to have a certain theme. As I mentioned in the intro to this entry, some of the themes mentioned were a personal struggle, a personal tragedy or a relationship or friendship. Once you have come up with a theme, think about events that have happened related to that theme.

Before you start writing, it is best to write a list or an outline of as many of those things as you possibly can.

  • Be sure to include as much detail as you possibly can. What did you hear, see, smell, touch and taste when that particular event happened.¬† Most importantly, you should include how the event made an impact on your life.
  • If you are writing about a personal struggle, make sure you include how that event made your personal struggle even more difficult to deal with. At the end of the memoir, be sure you include how you overcame that personal struggle and how it changed your attitude about life now.
  • If you are writing about a relationship or friendship with someone, talk about as many memories with that person as you possibly can and tell how your relationship with that person impacted your attitude about life now. This is also true for talking about your family.
  • If you are writing about your dreams for the future, make sure to include what made you want to live that dream, and the steps you are going to take to get there. How are you going to convince other people that they too can follow those same dreams?

Those were just a few suggestions, just Google “memoir topics” and many results should come up. You can be sure to find something you will want to write about. But wait, don’t start writing just yet! If you are seriously considering having the memoir published, here are a few “don’ts” you should be informed of.

  • Don’t mention anybody, regardless of your relationship with them without their permission. If the person you want to mention is under 18, be sure to ask their parent or guardian before you ask them. If the person says “no” then give them an alternate name. And, remember to keep your comments about the person positive! Use an alternate name for anybody who made a negative impact on your life.
  • Don’t mention another person’s medical diagnosis, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, skin color, etc. without their permission. That can easily offend some people.
  • Don’t mention an employers name without their permission (past or present)
  • Don’t quote from another person’s work without the authors permission (especially song lyrics)

Hopefully this gave you a better picture on why you should write a memoir and how you should write it. I hope this blog inspired you into writing your own memoir someday. But I must say one more thing before I go, try to read other people’s memoirs as well. Those can give you some pointers on what to include in yours. I hope you enjoyed reading this and I will be back to write soon!