Thursday, July 28, 2005

On Writing a Memoir

I have been tentatively planning to write a memoir. So far I’ve gotten to the stage in which I tell other people that I’m thinking of writing a memoir. When they are about to respond, I mentally prepare to reply: “Yes, I know I am only 28 years old and have a lot more to experience in life.” In reality, however, I haven’t had to say this yet. Of course at this point I have told all of 3 people.

Why do I want to write a memoir? Well, for one thing, I am self-obsessed. My husband told me this just the other day as a matter of fact. I think that I have always known this and just couldn’t accept it on my own without some external recognition first. So now that I am aware of my persistent self-awareness I might as well revel in it and exploit myself and my memories in a public forum. Another reason to write a memoir: to give my life some structure and purpose. “Structure!” as I am sure you will scoff means different things to different people. Structure for me means putting my past into perspective: remembering what has happened in a historical sense, putting two and two together in a way that will make four. Purpose: well, to write something, damnit. Isn’t that purpose enough?!

Other reasons? Well, I have been reading memoirs. Lots of them. (Many more to come.) Here are some of the memoirs I have read lately:

  • Three books by Augusten Burroughs: Running with Scissors, Dry, and Magical Thinking. Burroughs is hi-sterical and moving in a very unpretentious and uncomplicated sort of way. These are the books I wish I could have written. Check him out at:
  • Lucky by Alice Sebold. When I was reading this book I walked around telling other people about the great memoir I was currently reading: the story of a brutal rape of a college freshman and her recovery. Most people reacted by asking me why I would read such a book. Why do I read any book? What a dumb questions. While I had trouble explaining to other people why they might like to read Lucky, I knew they should and I told them as much. The amazing thing about this book is the sensation it caused in me. What sensation, you ask? Just read it.
  • The Glass Castle: a Memoir by Jeannette Walls. Wow. I admire Walls' honesty and her apparent acceptance of her past. This chick may be a little too well-adjusted for my taste, but overall, this is a great story that kept me enthralled.
  • A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. Tough jerky James wakes up on a plane heading to rehab. This was a very vividly written, compelling tale of an addict in recovery.

If anybody ever reads this blog, I recommend that you read these books.


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