I’ve been working on a memoir for several years now. Oh how naive I was when I believed the “you can write your memoir in six months” mantra. I think the mantra was given with good intentions and the highest of hopes, but it just hasn’t played out that way and I think part of the reason for me is the story arc.
As someone who loves words and stories, I feel compelled to give myself a story that makes sense. I want to avoid just vomiting out a string of events and facts and circumstances in a strictly chronological way. That’s boring and it is not transformative.
At its most basic level, I believe memoir writing should be a healing of self first, and a path of self discovery for the willing reader, second. I’ve read a few memoirs that left me in despair, I think because they were simply a spilling of the facts and not a story that was crafted to move me. On the other hand, I have read some memoirs that were beautiful stories in the hands of expert wordsmiths.
I want – no I need – my life recollection to be a legit story and I have spent years and many tears and much rewriting and head scratching to figure out the underneath meaning, in the on the surface obvious things that have happened. I need it to be this way for me, not to be seen as a competent writer. Though it is always nice to be seen as competent, I’m writing this for me.
I need the story so I can tell myself the story and at the end of it I can nod my head and say, yes, OK, I get it now. I see the thread and while it may not make a perfect pretty bow at the end, I do have closure. I can be at peace.
After a really fun spurt of following the thread of my story that has happened over the past year or so, I am now at a place again where I have kind of lost the thread and I have to dig around through my memories and the data and find it. Sure I have facts and timelines and I know what happened, but I want to know what happened. The good news is that I have more of the story than I have ever had and I am satisfied with it up to this point.