write a memoir?
Merriam-Webster: a narrative composed from personal experience.
the definition of a memoir given by Merriam-Webster, it would seem anyone can
write a memoir. For who doesn’t have personal experience? All you need now is a
way to write down your story, right?
To write a
memoir someone other than your family and friends would want to read takes
effort. But a personal history for your descendants may be a good starting
point. Would my great-grand nieces and nephews find it interesting, even
astonishing, that their now-old aunt was once a young dreamer who roved the
countryside on horseback? Would they be compelled by the fact that she was able
to ride for weeks by herself, counting on her only companions, her horses and
dog, to take care of her? I thought they might.
mused that people who thought they knew me well might learn more than they ever
guessed about my aspirations, actions and abilities. But I also wanted a theme
I thought might interest other groups of people—namely, women, horseback riders
and those interested in adventuring.
And so I wrote, Journeys: Finding Joy on Horseback
learning more about me was actually an uncomfortable thought. My journalism career
has revolved around interviewing people—probing sometimes to depths they might
not have expected to reveal and then telling their stories. But I have always
considered myself a very private person. To be truthful, an introvert.
So why the
heck put my own story inside the covers of a book?
with, I am a writer. Most writers write about what they know about. Many
novelists create characters based on their own personalities or on people they
know. Over the years I have had a lot of ideas for fiction stories. Maybe I’ll
write one someday. But I decided to start with what I knew most intimately—me
and my stories.
memoir may seem like just plastering a page with words that flow from the gray
matter through the fingertips. It can be that way to begin. But it is actually
a lot of work. As I wrote, I realized my memory was supplying some pretty good
stuff, but I wanted to be as accurate as possible. Here are some of the prompts
- Notes and journals, of which, sadly, I had but few.
- Published stories I had written.
- Photographs, some of which miraculously came to light after nearly 50 years, and some for which I am still searching.
- Conversations with family, friends and even people I had not previously met.
- Road trips, retracing routes of adventures.
just a few devices to help untangle that cobweb of the memory.
the original question—why write about yourself?
you can. Anyone can. Everyone has had life experience that, although may seem
common and unexciting to you, may be so different from others’ experiences that
there is someone out there who would enjoy or benefit from reading about it.
have ever thought about writing, be it a short story, an essay or a book, it
won’t ever get done if YOU don’t just “do it.”