Why we write memoir

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a post from the blog Brain Pickings…..

If you forced me to pick a favourite genre of writing, I’d choose memoir, no contest. I find people endlessly interesting. Their stories of their lives, their experiences and their challenges grip me by the eyeballs and won’t let go. Of course, as a writer, I have a special interest in the memoirs of other wordsmiths.

Anne Lamott is one of my darlings. Her book, Bird by Bird, not only reveals fascinating stories about her life, it also acts as an inspirational writing guide. I was pleased to see her mentioned in a recent Brain Pickings blog post on the subject of why we write about ourselves. 

Here is what LaMotte says:

I write memoirs because I have a passionate desire to be of even the tiniest bit of help. I like to write about the process of healing, of developing, of growing up, of becoming who we were born to be instead of who we always agreed to be…

I feel like it’s a gift I have to offer to people, to say, “This is what it’s like for me, who you seem to like or trust. We’re all like this. We’re all ruined. We’re all loved. We all feel like victims, we all feel better than.

Isn’t she a generous writer and thinker? I don’t feel the same way about the writing of Cheryl Strayed or Dani Shapiro — also mentioned in this blog post — but I was still interested to read their reflections on memoir.

If memoir is something that captures you, be sure to read this absorbing blog post.