Blogs, Creative Writing, Uncategorized

Things to Consider When Writing a Memoir

Are you thinking about writing your first memoir? My disclaimer: I’m not the foremost authority on memoir writing. What I can tell you is I’ve written more than a handful of memoirs, and three are published. One piece of advice I’ve heard over the years is to write what you know. Memoirs are the easiest of the genres to write, in my opinion. There’s no need to imagine content since it’s your real-life account of events or experiences.

In this blog today, I’m focusing on a high-level view of things to consider when thinking about writing a memoir.

  • Decide whether you want to write a memoir or an autobiography.
    • A memoir is a snapshot of a certain experience, time period, or event in your life. There are authors that write numerous memoirs with many themes. You’ll decide the focus of each memoir or the only memoir you write.
      • For example, I wrote one memoir about a special aunt and our relationship from different periods in my life; another memoir was about my experiences as a caregiver to my spouse -which included the years we navigated the organ transplant list process; the most recent memoir I wrote was simply about a year in my life living through the 2020 pandemic.
    • An autobiography is the story of your life. There are more than enough online resources on autobiography writing. I’ve yet to write my autobiography.
  • Think about how you want to start your memoir.
    • Most memoirs begin with an interesting, devastating, or exciting event in your life. Some say memoir or any legacy writing shouldn’t be presented in chronological order.  However, I believe if a memoir is creative and well-written, starting at the beginning can work. It depends on the subject matter and what the author is trying to convey to the reader.
  • Relax and know a memoir is the easiest thing you’ll ever write.
    • Why? Because you already know the story. There’s no mystery as to what the end of the book will produce. You control how much and what you want to write. Let your words flow just as though you’re writing in a journal about the subject of the memoir. You’re, in fact, telling your true story to your audience – write it as if they were sitting in front of you listening.
  • Be prepared to write more than one memoir.
    •  Alternatively, if you have more than a handful of subjects/events to write about that span throughout your entire life to date  – you might consider writing an autobiography or multiple memoirs.
  • Ask yourself what you want your first or only memoir to be about.
    • Memoirs are usually written about (for example):
      • The Loss of a loved one and the effect it had on your life.
      • A special friendship you had during a period in your life.
      • Your experience going into adulthood.
      • How you adjusted to a change in your life during a difficult time (divorce, sickness, death).
      • Changing careers and how those changes affected you as a person.
      • A change in your financial status and the events that brought about the change.   
      • How you handled your life through a particular time in world events (i.e., 9/11; World War; Earthquake; Floods; Recession; Pandemic).
      • How you overcame humble beginnings and the lessons learned.
      • How mistakes caused you to fail and the wisdom gained from those experiences.
      • A relationship with a family member that was volatile or wonderfully special; how it shaped you as a person.
      • How you recovered from a devastating illness (physical or mental); include the lessons learned about the condition, yourself, and the people in your life during that time.
      • How parenting changed your life during a specific period in you and your child’s life.
      • Surviving a violent event/prolonged abuse and how your account may be able to help others cope with their own experience.
      • The valuable and interesting life lessons you learned during your present or previous occupation.

Finally, the theme of your memoir can be whatever you want. The experience, person, achievement, or world event that had the most profound effect on your life may be the focal point for your first memoir. You’re most likely not alone in your experience and someone will want to read your story.

Happy writing!

©2021 R.H.W. Dorsey

R.H.W. Dorsey is a multi-genre author of memoir, fiction, and poetry. Her latest works are a poetry book, “Pandemic-Inspired Poetry” and “I Should Write Some of This Down.”

Uncategorized

National Random Acts of Kindness Day

Photo by ATC Comm Photo on Pexels.com

Random Acts of Kindness Day is halfway over as I pen this piece. If you’ve read my blog in the past, you’ll remember some of my thoughts on those ‘non-official’ national holidays. I honestly believe a good majority of the National Days bring out the best in people. I enjoy them because most of the days have a light-hearted spin and allow us to step out of our comfort zone and communicate with our fellow human beings.

Most unofficial National Days honor relatives, friends, people in varied professions, many foods, and much more. I especially enjoy the days that prompt us to do random things. In this month of February there are some gems: Open that Bottle Night (29th), Do a Grouch a Favor Day (16th), Wave All Your Fingers at Your Neighbor Day (7th), and my personal favorite Spunky Old Broads Day (1st). 😊

Here are some honorable, ‘interesting and questionable’ mentions during the year: Appreciate a Dragon Day (January 16th), National Shower with a Friend Day (February 5th), If Pets Had Thumbs Day (March 3rd), National Cheese Ball Day (April 17th), National Candied Orange Peel Day (May 4th), Name Your Poison Day (June 8th), Yellow Pig Day (July 17th), Race Your Mouse Day (August 28th), Be Late for Something Day (September 5th), Punk for a Day Day (October 25th), Use Your Common  Sense Day (November 4th), Bathtub Party Day (December 5th).

National Random Acts of Kindness Day

The name of this day recognized on February 17th is self-explanatory, unlike some others. A day to perform an act of kindness on whatever scale is wonderful, in my opinion. Using the day as a teachable moment for the younger people in your life is a great idea to pay it forward.

Here are some ideas I’ve come up with (randomly) you may want to try before the day’s over:

  • At work: Ask a coworker if you can bring them something back from the breakroom, vending area, or corner store.
  • At work: Get a coworker their favorite coffee, tea or soft drink as a surprise.
  • At work: If possible, offer to help a coworker with their workload.
  • Hold the elevator those extra few seconds for someone headed your way – they usually really appreciate the gesture!
  • Hold a door open for someone with their hands full or just “because it’s nice to do.”
  • Smile and wave (with all fingers 😊) to the driver who cut you off in traffic.
  • Call someone you haven’t connected with for a while.
  • On the way home: Stop at a drive-through restaurant and pay for the order of the car behind you. Or, if you’re financially able: Go to dinner and pay for a random table’s order before you leave. (It feels great! I’ve been on the receiving and giving end of this act.)
  • Volunteer at a community center or shelter anytime during the year.
  • Call an elderly family member or friend and ask if there’s anything you can do for them today or in the future. (i.e. run an errand, shopping, housework, etc.)
  • Winter: Shovel a neighbor’s driveway.
  • Seasonal: Offer to help with the yardwork for a person needing help.

Also, there are so many things we can do which don’t involve money or time. A smile, a “thank you,” “you look great,” “I’m proud of you,”, and many other words of encouragement go a long way to spreading those good feelings that make some of us want to wake up every day and live our lives.  

It would be a great thing if every person with a voice, platform or means would do their part in making the world a better place. I believe with my whole heart the forces of evil are no match to the spreading of love, kindness and caring throughout the world. In the end, if yours and my ancestors survive the effects of global warming, climate change, war, injustice, governmental corruption, poverty, and most of all hate – I’d like to think acts of kindness, civility, love, and service to others are what saved the world.

P.S. Let’s make every day a Random Act of Kindness Day