Venting, Vaunting, and Value

There are many reasons that people write memoirs. Some people have a visceral need to vent about their lives. Other people wish to vaunt their achievements and lay a pathway to success for others. There are myriad reasons why people turn to memoir, and all have value.

As a memoir writing coach, it is my first task to understand the why of the memoir, because only through understanding the why can I be of greatest help to the author. If the memoir is a venting, it is my job to help the author find the story in the pain or anger. If the memoir is a declaration of achievements, it is my job to help the author turn from boast to affirmation of effort.

No matter what the initiating force, all memoirs serve a purpose, for both the author and readers. Memoirs are snapshots of life. Each is unique, and each can have value for the reader who happens upon it.

Memoirs can relate stories of hardship and endurance, or can celebrate success or examine failure. Within each, readers should find nuggets of truths that speak to them, regardless of the readers’ own stories. The courage of the emigrant might echo the courage of a first-time soldier. The loss of a loved one might recall the loss of home or homeland.

We never know how our stories will affect others. We cannot plan how they will affect others. What we must do is speak the truth of the events. That truth will resound within the readers. To what effect, you shouldn’t care. The thrust of your memoir is to record your life truthfully, and open understanding to your readers.

It’s my job to help you achieve that truth.

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