Posted by: forgettingsally | September 5, 2010

Memoir Writing – A Journey of Self-Discovery

There are so many compelling reasons for writing a memoir. Some may do it for emotional fulfillment while others may look at it as a way of reflecting on one’s life experiences, hoping to perhaps draw interest to a specific time when a memorable occasion arose that needed telling. And there are yet others who welcome the therapeutic appeal of memoir writing as a way of sharing one’s life with the hopes of teaching and encouraging the value of self-learning through self-discovery. Memoir writers who subscribe to this category are usually people who may suffer some personal drawbacks in their life and who look upon memoir writing as a self-help process. These are people who believe that the mistakes of the past can best be prevented through a process of self-realization which the author then readily shares through his/her own writing.

A memoir is really a trip back in time, a way of discovering oneself with lots of emotional soul-searching that requires a good deal of honesty on the part of the writer. Very often, this means taking a hard look at the truth and at the mistakes one has picked up while steering through the path of life. Thus, the decision to write a memoir truly springs from a need to understand the reason why specific events even happen. For instance, it might involve a time in your life when your parents chose to live in a foreign country only to find the culture shock a little too much to bear. Or it could be the time when your cantankerous grandfather whom you thought you disliked, came to stay with you for a number of years that simply changed the way you looked at him. Memoir writing can be interesting, humorous and it should be focused meaning it does not have to take into account all the nitty-gritty facts of an autobiographical read. In all, it should address a specific point of time that had a special meaning for you which you share with the interest of the readers at heart.

And most of us who write a memoir may do so at a more mature age because to place it realistically, that’s when we are better able to assess the nooks and crannies of our lives with a more experienced eye. Indeed, writing memoirs could really open one’s eyes to the events of the past. Since memoir writing involves a good deal of honesty on one’s part to tell, memoirs are possibly an odyssey of self-discovery with a promise for engaging towards a more therapeutic experience.

So, just what is memoir writing all about and how does it differentiate itself as a unique genre amidst the bastion of genres in the marketplace today? What compels the publishing marketplace to consider a memoir read for their audience? And just how do you write a memoir that passes through the doors with the least hopes of spotting media speculation and buzz that are truly unwelcome? These are just some of the questions that a potential memoir writer needs to know. Memoirs could be the best book ever written engaging a personal touch that takes one through the rhythm of a skilful novelist read topping off on the best selling lists, or simply fall off the pedestal resulting in a serious impediment to the new author’s future writing goals. In some instances, the wrong perception on a memoir could render unfortunate results, perhaps fueling an outrage of some unexpected sort or even triggering a malicious effect to all those who are represented in the memoir read.

And the worst mistake any would be memoir writer could do is to blame and vent anger. Never do that. Revenge is the last tool of the trade to seek and does little to convince a reader of your desire to share and tell. In effect, it resonates your voice with malice, anger and all the tell tale signs that you have not risen too well in life both in spirit and in your mental health. Drop that memoir writing if your intent is to singe the world with your angry talk. Keep a diary instead because in telling your anger, you are telling yourself that you have not learnt very well and the audience you are targeting would probably be more inclined to read another book that offers a more refreshing and joyous approach. No one cares to read a sob story that tells nothing and brings absolutely nothing but anger to the table. It is simply bad for the soul.

The best memoir writing is when the writer skillfully indulges a novelist hands into perfecting a manuscript that simply engages and holds the reader’s attention throughout, building the characters and letting them play their roles well as the story matures towards the end. This means the memoir writer creates enough textual content and scenes that allows the reader to visualize the story, enabling the thought processes to take effect as the reader eventually seeks gratification in finishing the absorbing read. To me, a well written memoir is when the reader pages through the book stepping into the shoes of the memoir writer who then indulges a trip very much like that of a novel where the characters play their part in ensuring a smooth ending to the story. In other words, a memoir writer needs to consider the demands of the writing as one would do when penning a successful novel. There must be a beginning, a middle ground and an ending that skillfully wraps the story to unprecedented levels and which leaves the desired effect simmering through the reader’s mind when he/she finally puts the book down.

However, memoir writers need to create the right effect or the book sinks down to an undesirable level when the ill effects engendered from the memoir read simply backfires. This can happen when the memoir leaves the wrong set of ideas planted in the reader’s mindset. Hence, always think of the audience when you pen your book. What sort of audience gravitates towards the sort of memoir writing you pen? Do you visualize the read seeking interest from all angles or just from a specific niche? Good writing is one manner to entice your reader to make the read, the next is to orchestrate the reader through a symphony of musical compositions that bring out color, character and lots of imaginative scenes that tells and promises the reader a nice ring with every page penned.

Finally, memoir writing can be fun, a way of understanding oneself but it can be an emotionally exhausting process and spiritually, a step that involves a tremendous amount of soul searching. On the other hand, writing a memoir means sharing one’s rather private experiences for all to read. If this is not the preferred step, do not write your memoir and never let your memoir be an emotional battleground for punishing those you hold responsible for the effects it rendered. Tell your life as honestly as you can and let your audience decide. Writing a memoir of course opens one to commentary, some good and some bad. That’s all part and parcel of making a wonderful read felt through good memoir writing but the reason for writing a memoir should be to share one’s life in the way a novelist shares a well-crafted read. Always make the writing interesting with parts that make the reader comfortable as one would do when picking up a novel that promises plenty.

And do remember that you do not have to be a famous person or a member of a well known community or group to get heard in any way; if the memoir is strong and filled with a purpose, the reader will naturally follow with a purchase.

Written by Romilla D.

© 2010 All Rights Reserved

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