It’s easy to write a memoir when all it takes is spilling your guts out onto a blank page to tell your extraordinary life story as you know it.
Before I began talking to people who I chose to be sources for my personal narrative, I noticed patterns in my first draft. “I did,” “I felt,” “I can’t believe,” or “I was angry.” An abundance of I’s everywhere. But then I realized something… nobody actually cares. Writing a memoir solely from your own perspective of the things that had happened to you and those around you is ignorance at its best. It’s easy to do and anyone can do it.
What’s not easy is having those personal–and often times emotional–conversations with the people closest to you who may know nothing of your feelings or the way you experienced life at that particular moment. They may have also been oblivious to the joy or trauma that was twirling inside your head or completely aware but decided to remain silent. Whichever the case, they were there experiencing that particular moment with you.
The crux of the matter is how others were and continue to be affected by your actions. How did I make them feel, what did she do and how did she react? were all questions running through my head as I had a conversation with my mom about my experience with hearing loss. Because nobody wants to read a dozen of mopey diary entries, on say, how pissed I was at my parents for that 11 p.m. curfew or the frustration of a hearing aid battery slowly expiring during class. That’s not–in my belief–memoir writing. That’s personal journaling.
“Huh, that actually happened? I said that?” I asked my mom. I was shocked by the number of things I had forgotten over the years and purposely tried to forget. We talked for almost two hours but that wasn’t enough. “Just so you know, we’re probably going to have several more of these chats,” I warned her. She was glad to explain the things that I was never aware of or comfortable enough to discuss with her years ago.
When telling a memoir about the moments of impact, and telling it well from the lens of another person, not only gives your story meaning but shares a greater truth that you never knew existed.