Thoughts on Memoir

Before I begin, I’d like to say that this page will be a gradual collection of my thoughts on the subject of the memoir— as a genre, as a duty, as an art, as an issue of truth and experience.

All of the little voices….

When I think of writing, the act of it, I often envision my bookshelves at home. Yes, filled with the books I’ve collected since graduate school. I dare say that I was a foolish college kid prior to that and sold back my books for the few dollars that might buy me a sandwich with lots of mayonnaise. What’s important now: the books that I’ve kept all did something for me– selfish, not really. Personal, absolutely. From the one spectacular image that comes from a poem to the grand plot that had me turning pages dark into the night, from the author who knows how to use semicolons to the author who knows how to use dialogue, from the essays that inspire me to the opinions that make me angry– all of it does something for me. Those voices, ideas, pieces of art put on the page required hours of thought, and in some cases, lifetimes of experiences– labors that didn’t have to be shared with the world, that didn’t have to be revealed. What’s often most striking is that these people/authors have deliberately made their work public. They’ve put themselves out there for us to consume, learn, and move on. Some do– move on. Read more. Soak it up. Close the book. But to what extent do you need to give back? As with any polite exchange (and I say ‘polite’ because that’s the least of what it deserves), I think it requires one to return the favor, the knowledge, the experience– to be part of the world they’ve added to and add to it. Write.

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