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.



The first memoir I wrote (and discarded) was organised by topic. Each chapter was about a different topic: parents, other family, secrets, religion, etc.

The second memoir, which I didn’t finish, was organised according to the long correspondence I had with Gill. I told her about events in the order I happened to think of them, and she gradually built up a picture of the girl she knew but didn’t know and the woman she’d only just met.

I don’t think either of those approaches could work as a memoir. There’s a reason why most memoirs are written in chronological order. Readers want to follow the writer’s journey through time and discover how the writer has changed over that time.

Going back to Gornick’s terms, readers want the story and not just the situation.

So I think my third attempt will begin at age one and progress to the current time, concentrating on childhood.

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.