MEMORIES INTO MEMOIRS
We All Have a Story to Tell
I Can Help You Tell Yours
WHY A MEMOIR
 

We look back on our life as a thing of broken pieces, because our mistakes and failures are always the first to strike us, and outweigh in our imagination what we have accomplished and attained.

Goethe—German writer-philosopher—1749-1832

In recent years, folks of diverse ages and backgrounds have turned to life-writing. Their motives are as varied as the memoirs themselves.

  • Some find the experience therapeutic—an exercise in soul-searching and self-discovery, and a way of more fully revealing themselves. 
     
  • Others wish to create a family history—a family heirloom that captures the family history, and that can be passed on through the generations.
  • Still others simply wish to gain clarity and coherence—to acquire perspective on a life story that (at times) has seemed ragged and disjointed.

The life-story writing process can add to a store of self-knowledge, and can help capture (and relive) past struggles, delights, and achievements. It may even change a life-driving myth or script.

For many memoirists, the writing experience helps pull together disparate experiences, and to see life as a series of unfolding, linked events—a story that possesses a coherent theme or line. Famed writer Virginia Woolf, describing the pleasure of seeing patterns in one’s experience, said this:

Perhaps this is the strongest pleasure known to me. It is the rapture I get when in writing I seem to be discovering what belongs to what; making a scene come right; make a character come together. From this I reach what I might call a philosophy; at any rate it is a constant idea of mine; that behind the cotton wool [of daily life] is hidden a pattern; that we—I mean all human beingsare connected with this; that the whole world is a work of art; that we are parts of the work of art. But there is no Shakespeare, there is no Beethoven; we are the words; we are the music; we are the thing itself. 
 
Memoir writing motives vary, and they're often mixed, and they needn't be perfectly understood. A well-defined purpose, however, can help prospective writers begin to organize thoughts, memories, and materialsand can lead to a suitable structure.