One Writer’s Journey

June 24, 2019

Memoir or Autobiography?

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:52 am
Tags: ,

The past two months, I’ve been on-again, off-again drafting a memoir.  It started as an essay.  Then I realized that I needed to add onto this part and that part.  Really, quite a bit of backstory was necessary to understand the full impact of the “12 hours in the emergency room with Dad” essay.

So I wrote about my time in the hospital when I was 3.  My roommate only spoke Spanish.  I wrote about helping Dad build a television when I was 7.  There was the time I refused to use the restroom in one filling station after another.  I was 4 and none of them were clean enough.  Dad and Grandad taking me fossil hunting as a preschooler and my predilection for taking things apart.

But this is a hybrid. I’m also writing about my Dad’s childhood.  I wrote about when, as a preschooler, he climbed out on the antennae that hung off the mountain.  Then there was the unique way my grandad punished the boys when they lipped off at the mama.

So how is this memoir and not autobiography?  In an autobiography, you tell about your life.  You write about what happened and how you felt about these various things.

But in memoir you tell about the things that happened and how they shaped you.  A memoir is about what happened but it also about the lesson learned.

I have to admit that at this point, what I am writing is more autobiography than it is memoir.  Apparently I am learning my lesson rather slowly – the continued story of my life.

What a minute?  Could that BE my lesson?  I’m not sure I’ll have to noodle it over.  Not that I’m even close to done.  I have to write about almost going to tech school and Missy, Dad’s husky.  I’m sure there are a dozen other stories that I need to tell but as I’ve already pointed out, I am a slow study.

But that’s okay.  I can only write the memories one at a time.  Speaking of which, I had better go write.


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