Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Memoir Writing: So what?

The beginning... 

Some writers have the instinct to write memoir, but aren’t sure why. Maybe they want to share their stories with younger – or future – family members. Maybe they are afraid of forgetting.

But then they stop and ask themselves, “Who cares? Who would care to read what I have to say?”

This is what I call the “so what” of writing. So you experienced X? So what? So you saw Y? So what?

The answer to this (rude) question is the key to your piece and its importance to both people you know and a larger readership. Inherent in this broad question are more questions: What did you learn? How did you change? How could someone else benefit from your experience?

You might not know or sense the answers to these questions until you start writing because writing is a part of the learning process. Keep the question in the back of your mind as you write and organize your memories into scenes and then chapters.

In the end, you’ll have a better understand your personal history. You might be able to expose an era or public event through a private experience. You might uncover something about the human experience, small or large.

Do you have a draft of your memoir written? There are two seats available in my upcoming Master Class: Memoir Manuscript Workshop at Politics and Prose bookstore this fall. Classes start Sept. 10th; apply today!

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