My brother, Skip and I ready for school
I have volunteered to facilitate the memoir writing group virtually through the library. BC (before Covid), our small group met at the library, and during one of those sessions I learned there are different definitions of memoirs. One train of thought is that a memoir is a written account of one theme running through a person’s life. Let’s say you loved drawing and painting since you were young. You followed your dream, your passion to be an artist, but there were bumps along the way. Maybe your parents thought it was a foolish waste of time, or refused to pay for art school. And then there are the blue ribbons you won for your artwork.
Another definition is: a narrative composed from personal experience. When I wrote my “memoirs” in a writing group during the early 2000s, I wrote individual chapters for each experience. What my home looked like, my best friend, Thanksgivings, and how other holidays were celebrated. I’ve decided to call my next group of memoir writing – Life Stories.
A woman in my library memoir writing group has titled her book “Before the Library Burns,” referring to the fact that when she is gone, her life experiences, if not written down and shared with family, will be lost forever. We can’t let that happen to our families.
Writing advice tells us to write what you know; start with yourself; start with action. Or, write down story topics: When/where you were born, your parents, special memories of your grandparents/aunts/uncles; your favorite toy; accomplishments you are most proud of; turning points in your life; family traditions/culture; holidays; pets; jobs; military service; education.
On this last point, from first to third grade I attended a rural two-room school. Our school “bus” was a station wagon. That’s an experience my children and grandchildren will never have. Nor will they feel what it was like to swim across Cayuga Lake at the age of twelve. Or, growing up in a restaurant. These are all stories I’ve captured for them in my first volume of memoirs.
Take each of the above suggestions, or think of your own, in no particular order and start writing. As you go through that process, more memories will come. Most of all, have fun.