Why do we write memoir?

When people ask me why I wrote my memoir, I can offer many excellent reasons, though it’s never easy to summarise forty years of growing up in a pithy, two-sentence reply.

Though for each of us there will be a differing admixture and flavour, a different weight given to recurring themes, nevertheless the reasons people write memoirs are fairly universal.

We write memoir for many reasons.

~ To share interesting stories and leave a legacy of information for our family.

~ As a way of speaking to others intimately when the thought of conversation is simply too confusing or daunting. I can’t be the only writer who has found it easier to write letters to a boyfriend instead of actually talking to him.

~ To reconcile ourselves to the course of our lives. Coming to terms with our failures and learning to accept ourselves as we are is a major reason why people write. We can, and often do, bury ourselves in fiction as a way of hiding from life, though I’m quite certain that writing short stories, flash fiction and novels also teaches us acceptance.

~ To apologise to others and to ourselves. In the course of writing anything, we do see things more clearly and also from other peoples’ points of view. Even in our fiction, our characters teach us humility and insight.

~ Because we have stuff we need to learn – like empathy and patience – before we can move on.

~ To free us to move forward and make better lives for ourselves. Any writing, be it a diary, a journal, a short story or letters and emails, offers opportunities to lay our ghosts and leave behind a legacy of peace that helps us to go forward.

Thanks so much for listening.

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