Friday, May 20, 2011

7 Important Reasons to Write a Memoir

Why write a memoir?  1. You can't help it. You feel a strong compulsion to do it.  2. You have learned something from your life that you want to share with others either so they can avoid repeating your mistakes or because you've proved something works.  3. The rhythms and flavors of your life are unique experiences that you'd like to explain to others.  4. You want to move from writing into speaking about parts of your life that were important to you.  5. You want to get out and compete with others to sell a lot of books.  6. You want to become a celebrity and make a name for yourself.  7. You are a celebrity and know that others want to read about your life and how you succeeded.

I wrote my memoir for reasons 1-3.  I am not a celebrity so reason 7 is for the Oprah Winfreys, Ellen DeGenereses and Maria Shrivers of the world, not for me.  What about reasons 4, 5, 6?  Those are the things that reclusive, shy writers don't consider, don't want, but may have to accept.  Being a professor, I'm more comfortable with speaking than some writers I know.  I don't much like 5, the competition.  And I have a love/hate relationship with 6.  I think I might like being a household word, but I might hate the loss of privacy.  Once you've written and published a memoir, at least part of your privacy curtain is gone anyway, so perhaps it's just as well to imagine it all gone.  But I'd like to have my cake and eat it too: I'd love to sell a lot of books but not be recognized by the woman in the street.  Probably, I'll get at least half my wish!


Anonymous said...

Hi Laura,
Even people who've published 10 books are pretty anonymous in American society. Now if you're on 10 TV shows, that is quite different. Or even if you've been in 10 TV commercials. So, I'm an author but people don't ask for my autograph except at book signings. I agree with you, though, I'd rather it be that way.

Anonymous said...

What is the most popular reason? I'd guess it's the second one. You left out revenge, but probably that's because of how you are! I think that's a motive for a lot of celeb. memoirs. I hate to read them, though.

Lorelei said...

Hi Melissa,
I wrote a lot of Spiral Ceiling with anger/revenge on my mind. But that was the first draft! Then I thought it over and realized that I would not want to be a Harvard prof now. I couldn't do a good job of what they expect and still be the family person I want and need to be. So I threw out big chunks and rewrote almost all of it. I don't think people want to read a couple hundred page rant anyway.