I read a line somewhere, sometime, during one of many memoir writing researching binges. At the time, I was working backwards. I wrote a memoir, well, a very first draft, and then I read anything I could about the non-fiction category. Headlines stating “Personal essay” or “First-person essay” also caught my attention. I Googled and searched, walked Barnes and Nobles aisles, and clicked Amazon pages. I subscribed to Writer’s Digest, Poets and Writers, The Writer Magazine, and then some. I’ve got tear sheets on the subject of memoir waded in folders but spaciously filed in a desktop box. And then after all that educational surge, I learned a simple statement. I wrote my manuscript to make sense of my experience through words. And I realized that that’s all I wanted to do.
Memoirs are simply personal stories. Memoir takes your life and redefines it as a story or lesson or often times both. Your past holds countless narratives, regardless of the kind of life you have lived. Your personal history doesn’t have to have war battles, marathon running, addictions, or any other highest form of drama you may think qualifies to be written about. The smallest, simplest moments as told with details provide the best subject to write about. It just depends on how well you define the details. You are the star character in your well-written memoir.
“Under the Birch Tree” is still under construction. But the high drama I thought my memoir would require only put up barriers and road closures to my authentic writing. Making sense from your words is truly memoir.