Confessions of a Memoir Writer

Confessions, you say? From a memoir writer? Isn’t writing a memoir actually a confession of how things happened… to you or observed by you?

Writing a memoir is like diving deep into your psyche, examining your perception of events and people from a relatively safe distance, because of the passage of time.

A memoir is not an autobiography. It is not the entire story, starting from the beginning and ending with the demise. A memoir is a piece of the whole, cut deliberately, dressed with words of choice and served to fulfill. It is not the meal, it is just one dish.

Why write a memoir, I am asked by the sceptic in me. Because I want a piece of immortality, just for myself. Because I want to live on in my words. I am unlikely to produce a masterpiece for the world, but I can bring forth from my pen some memories, some snatches that make sense to my loved ones, to my children and maybe their children.

I can even connect with others, with people I do not know much about who I feel may be just as moved by my recounting for there is a universality of experience running through mankind, across continents and cultures. What I have to say may resonate with a lot of people.

How to write a memoir, is the next pertinent question that arises. I must first decide on the event I want to recount. Think about the critical choices I have made over the years, the people, and events that have influenced me, my beliefs, the challenges I have faced and the mistakes I have made. Find the one story that needs to be told. Then, bring forth my unique angle to narrate the story. Lend texture to the narrative by involving all my senses…

And now for the confession. I write memoirs, but I am in the closet. I cannot bear the thought of my friends and relatives looking over my shoulder, recognising themselves. They would get to know who I am, by my narrative. I feel too scared to hand out snippets of my life to others for them to examine. They would be read by my descendants, when I am long dead and gone.