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A-Z Challenge: I is for…

Insight

Memoir Writing

This post is one of 26 I am writing for the A-Z Challenge on the subject of writing a memoir. I’m not an expert in writing memoirs, but I’m exploring the topic with thoughts about writing one, and am happy to share the fruits of my exploration.

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MemoirWriting-Insight1

To write a memoir, you need to have reached the point where you have insight into episodes from your past that you didn’t have before. This is another reason why you need detachment.

Here’s an episode from my past, aged 15, plus a recent insight:

Mrs B is organising a skiing trip and I’m booked to go. I’ve never been skiing and I’ve never been able to go on a school trip before. I’m very excited.

Mum returns from the parents’ meeting.

“I met R’s mother and we had a long chat. She told me R is also going on the skiing trip.”

I nod. I don’t tell Mum, but I’m expecting trouble. R doesn’t like me. I don’t know why, but I know she doesn’t.

A few days later Mum tells me that Mrs B phoned her. “She’s very sorry, but she’s had to cancel the trip.”

I don’t believe that and my doubts are confirmed by L who suggested I joined the trip in the first place and is still going. How could Mrs B have lied like that?

Decades later, I don’t think Mrs B lied. I think my mother lied because she wanted to protect me from the truth, although really she didn’t protect me from anything and it would have been much better if we could have talked it through.

Note: I love to read your comments, especially when they’re attached to the right post. Please remember the Comments button is at the top of this post.

By Miriam Drori

Author, editor, attempter of this thing called life.

8 replies on “A-Z Challenge: I is for…”

Insight is an interesting topic. In memoir we’re trying to show the reader how we experienced something in the past, what we thought and felt about it back then. Alongside this, there is how we understand it now which, as you say, is sometimes different from how we saw it at the time. The incident you describe is a good example of where you know that your past and present understanding differs.

When writing my memoir, sometimes I had to ask myself, could I be certain that my memories of how I felt about an incident then weren’t getting mixed up with how I feel about it now? Not always easy (though my old diaries helped a lot). I suppose this is where insight is linked to detachment, truth, memory and other aspects of memoir writing.

I have always liked what Oprah once said: “When we know better, we do better.” I suspect that is true of many parenting ‘errors’ – done out of concern and love, but perhaps not what 20/20 hindsight would dictate.

Interesting post, Miriam. Thanks.

Regards,

Christine London

A-Z Challenge “I” is for Ice Cream (http://christinelondon.com/i-is-for-ice-cream )
Christine’s Amazon Author Central Page: http://tinyurl.com/ccq2or8
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Very insightful post (I guess that’s the point!). In trying to protect people (and not just children) by withholding information, sometimes we unwittingly cause the same pain (or more) anyway as they ‘fill in the blanks’ themselves… I’ve only been a parent for two years and it’s a journey – I’m sure I’ve made plenty of ‘mistakes’ already! I do always try to be honest with my son and I hope that helps – even if I’m not sure he understand what I’m saying yet!

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