I had no idea what to expect when I first enrolled in this class. I wasn’t sure what a Memoir actually was. I just thought it was another named for an autobiography. After the first week of class, I knew better. I guess I have to differentiate between a regular memoir and a literary memoir. When I read memoirs at first, I read them for enjoyment. I thought to myself, “Oh that’s cool they experienced that.” I still think like that, but I know now there is so much more.
I’m surprised what goes into a memoir. The process of writing a memoir was much more difficult than I thought. It never occurred to me a writer’s memory was unreliable. It just never crossed my mind. The stuff that I was reading may not have happened. I mean it’s impossible for someone to remember everything about their childhood in a detailed manner. What I was reading was probably made up. I also realized that was ok. Even though these events were altered one way or another, as long as the truth behind them is factual then it makes it a Literary Memoir.
Memoirs are very personal. The memoirs that we’ve read, there is a central character, but there are also secondary characters. It’s ok to tell your story, however what about someone else’s story? We learned Karr’s methods of protecting her friends and family. I like the idea of having people choose their fake names in the story, so no one would know it was them, but at the same time it creates a individualized costume in which only the writer knows. What I find most difficult is asking permission or having to bring up intimate stories of the friends or families that I want to write about. Some people don’t want to discuss their story, which is understandable. I wouldn’t want to press the matter either, but sometimes stories crossover and I have to ask myself whether or not I can put this in my memoir.
The amount of bravery one needs to write a memoir is astounding. Some of the things we’ve read, with Angelou’s rape story to Karr’s estranged family, make you wonder can I be as brave as these writers. My view on memoirs has changed a lot in the past 13 weeks. I can learn something about myself whenever I read a memoir.