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A-Z Challenge: M is for…

Memoir

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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Now that we’ve got half-way through these posts about memoir-writing, we must have a pretty good idea about what a memoir is, right? Well, this is what I think:

A memoir is a slice of life – not a whole life, like an autobiography, but the part or parts of a life that substantiate a message or messages the writer wants to convey.

Linda Joy Myers says (amongst other things) “A memoir is a story with structure, a theme, and a reason for a reader to be engaged.”

This is from Dictionary.com:

1. a record of events written by a person having intimate knowledge of them and based on personal observation.

2. Usually, memoirs.

a. an account of one’s personal life and experiences; autobiography.

b. the published record of the proceedings of a group or organization, as of a learned society.

3. a biography or biographical sketch.

What do you think a memoir is?

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

By Miriam Drori

Author, editor, attempter of this thing called life.

10 replies on “A-Z Challenge: M is for…”

I have to admit I get mixed up between memoir and autobiography. Would a memoir also be a story based on the writer’s own experiences but told using a fictional character to help cope with the pain? I’m thinking here of Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Wikipedia says that some call Angelou’s book autobiographical fiction while most call it an autobiography. I think most people expect a memoir to contain only truth, or at least the truth as seen by the author.

I often wondered about the difference between an autobiography and a memoir. I think a memoir is focused on a particular area of a person’s life, whereas autobiography is more inclusive of their whole life. There’s bound to be some overlap though. When writing about specific events in your life, it often needs some background details from the wider context.

I’d never really thought about the difference between biography and memoir until I studied creative writing and we had to do some life writing. During those weeks of the course it hit me the difference. Memoirs can be a lot more interesting than a full biography. More license as well.

We’re halfway through the A to Z Challenge. Phew 🙂

I think biographies are sometime very factual whereas a memoir is perhaps more open to creative license.

When we were doing assignments in life writing we were encouraged to add details that were not necessarily true, but more artistic license. Paint the picture more like a story rather than be biographical.

Though I might be completely wrong in my assumptions 🙂

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