Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Recipe for a Memoir

I recently spoke to a group of post-polio people about the process of writing a memoir, and as a result of that pleasant afternoon, I found that I know these things:

I know that seems glib, but I think any memorist must walk a fine line between telling a simple story (people doing things, thinking things over a period of time) and expanding that story into truths discovered and then revealed by reflection.

I'm suggest "20/20 hindsight," tinged with a bit of self-deprecatory irony, with the wisdom a writer has earned over a lifetime, with empathy for the person who lived the story.

Of course, everyone says "show, don't tell," but my point is that the person who lived the memoir is not the person who is writing it, and it's important for the wisdom and experience earned by the author to be reflected in the memoir by telling analysis. Sometimes a simple example (an "illustration," a "show") is too open to subjective interpretation) without expert and experienced analysis.

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