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Guest writer Denis Ledoux has been assisting people to write personal and family stories (since 1988) and training the memoir professionals who work with them (since 1996). For your free memory jog question book, go to http://thememoirnetwork.com.
“Worth the time to write?” I repeated—raising my voice into a question—when a man said to me recently that most people didn’t have a memoir that was worth their time to write.
“Not only is every life worth writing about,” I countered, “but the writing of a memoir is a healing and developmental process for the writer. There is something precious in the telling of every tale.”
“I don’t know about the healing,” he said, “but I do know that most people haven’t done anything interesting enough to write about, let alone have someone else read it.”
“I don’t think children and grandchildren feel that way,” I answered. “I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t happy to have a memoir of a father or mother.”
“Well, okay,” he conceded, “but who else is interested?”
“The breadth of the audience is not what makes the writing of a memoir significant. There is worth in the telling itself.”
There continues to be an insatiable hunger to know about one’s family and culture. Writing a memoir is a meaningful way one generation can transmit stories to another.
In the man’s commentary, of course, there is an important point to consider. If one has not led a momentous life, are there things one can do if one wishes to write a memoir that goes beyond the interest of a small family readership?
Let me emphasize that it is appropriate to write stories solely to family readership. There is nothing “wrong” with a small audience. The value of any piece of writing is not measured by how many people—total numbers—have read it. This emphasis on size is a spin-off of the commercialization of worth. It is a result of the creation and promotion of the “superstar” in our culture.
But the true worth of a memoir is better measured by the inherent value to the writer and to its selected audience. The act of writing will change you and your relationship to your life. Writing is significant for itself.
Begin writing your memoir today!
Want to find a literary agent for your memoir—an advocate who will help you submit your memoir to major publishing houses? Writer’s Relief helps writers of memoirs get published by managing the submission process and targeting the best literary agents and editors who want to read true stories.
QUESTION: If you wrote a memoir, who do you think would read it? Would it appeal to anyone outside of your friends and family?