(2) Why Write a Memoir?

Writing a memoir is an opportunity to explore how you came to be the person you are. Perhaps you grew up on a rural farm in the 1960’s with doting parents and siblings who loved you. Or maybe you dated the love of your life for five years and he/she dumped you for someone else. Your middle school years were painful and awkward in your wheelchair. Possibly you came to this country without employable skills and could not speak English. Each of these stories could be a memoir. Even though you understand your situation, the reflection and remembering as you write can bring more clarity, and even peace.

Some who write a memoir say that it is a catharsis for coping with painful, awkward, or humiliating events. Facing the death of a loved one, or being arrested for committing a crime might be subjects for a memoir in which the narrator comes to terms with difficulty and learns about himself/herself. In these memoirs, narrators often hope that others will benefit from what they learn about themselves, and not feel so isolated or alone.

Passing on family heritage may be a motive for writing a memoir. Perhaps you grew up in the 1940’s and want to write about what life was like during that time, and what was important to you and family members. For example, descendants of the Pilgrims were glad that several kept diaries during their first very difficult winter. First-hand accounts of wagon trains crossing from east to west gave generations to come an idea of what that journey was like.

Many who have written a memoir say that they have learned something about themselves, that they feel better, and have gratitude that they could share their message. They like the idea of leaving a piece of themselves for the world to remember when they are gone. Some think that telling your story, and reviewing the memories needed to write your memoir releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals, in your brain. Others feel that the act of writing and putting together words, sentences, and paragraphs is challenging mental activity needed to keep minds healthy and alert.

My main motivation to write about my childhood is to let people know that being abused at an early age does not dictate a path to an unhappy life. There is hope, survival, and recovery. I came to terms with my past in a variety of ways, and I wanted to share how this happened for me. My wish for readers who have been abused is to feel that they are not alone, and that there is hope. For readers who have not been abused, but may know someone who was, my words may provide understanding of what that child experienced.

Writing Prompt: Think back in your life to an ideal spring day. What were you doing? Thinking? Feeling? What did you see? Describe this setting in detail including colors, sizes, and shapes. What did you smell? Taste? Touch? Hear? Why was it an ideal spring day?

Linda Lundgren