Why do so many amateur or first-time writers write memoirs?

A supportive board for writers at all levels to discuss writing topics, debate burning issues related to publishing, To publicise your novel. And to seek support of every kind in helping you to become a better writer.
Guest

Post by Guest »

I am simply curious and I mean nothing negative.
William

Post by William »

It's the most anthropologically consistent form of storytelling. "I existed, here was my journey" is a form of narrative that existed long before even our most fundamentally structured legends. Ultimately, people want to outlive their inevitable end, to be remembered, to feel that their triumphs and their sorrows might have meant something to one other than themselves.
Colin

Post by Colin »

Everyone is under the impression their lives are more unique and interesting than they are.
Denise

Post by Denise »

Because that is their story. It is unique and it's been one of the most fundamental human traits throughout the ages to want to pass on something, to leave a mark and to tell stories.

It's what motivates them to endure the long, thankless days of effort.

It enriches us all as human being to walk in the shoes of another.

Writing your memoir can be therapeutic and it can let others who have endured something similar know that they aren't alone.

It's an incredible thing to do, it's brave and inspiring and we are all better for the opportunity to understand each other a little more.
Jay

Post by Jay »

If only professional writers wrote memoirs it would be a very narrow genre. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a professional writer’s memoir but I’ve read ones by a range of other people — so maybe it’s that people other than professional writers also live a life that’s worth recording in a memoir?
Carissa

Post by Carissa »

As someone writing a memoir, it's because my story is important. I want to share the cold, hard truth about a billion dollar for-profit industry our society views as perfect and wonderful. People need to know the truth. Most don't even know its for-profit.

I want to shed light on this shameful area of our society and help bring about change, even in some small way. The corruption and greed will never be stopped if people don't even know about it.

I want to educate the public as best I can and help the millions of grieving parents who have been in my shoes feel less alone.
Verna

Post by Verna »

I wrote mine in the hope I'd change people's lives.
SE ~

Post by SE ~ »

I'm a new writer and I would never write a memoir.

I would not deem my life interesting enough for others to want to read and my life has been very interesting. I've lived in 4 different countries has jobs ranging from security, military service, worked in a school for disabled children, worked as irrigation and drainage foreman in 100° heat, lived in places where temperatures fall as low as -50f, saved 3 peoples lives and seen people die, been in many fights in my youth, traveled to 17 different countries, taken enough drugs to supply a hippy commune for a 100 years, suffered mental issues, overcome mental health issues, overcome physical health issues, met some of the most bizarre and interesting people, worked with horses, lived on a bison ranch, I can write, paint, sketch, carpentry, play instruments, write songs, have been in bands etc etc etc.

I would still deem my life not worth writing a memoir about, I'm not that narcissistic or self absorbed.

I will be able to go to my grave knowing I've lived a phenomenal life and that is enough for me.
Katie

Post by Katie »

People do it because they are compelled to share their story, not solely because they want to become a professional author. Some people have both aims and that’s why their memoir isn’t their first publication.

Writing a memoir is cathartic, helps people process trauma, and/or remember the good times passed…it’s entirely valid to write only one book.

If you don’t wish to read them, don’t!
Jack

Post by Jack »

Let me just point out, a person doesn't need to have been some prolific writer to write about their past life experiences. The joy of writing is sharing a story, may they be fiction or not. And what one reader finds boring, another one will find worthwhile.
Mary

Post by Mary »

Sometimes people don’t even know they’re writers. But memoirs are not inspired by writing. They’re inspired by extraordinary events in one’s life, inspiring the need to write about it.

In my own case, I had already written the first 11 books of my thriller series when I was very ill , although I wrote them so fast that I hadn’t given a thought to publishing them yet. Then something happened that triggered my cPTSD, causing a severe mental health crisis. I set an appointment for counseling and typed my trauma journal in 38 straight hours at 80wpm. I intended to give it to my counselor to read and it would go no further.

But it was thick with one trauma and crime committed against me after another for decades. When my daughter saw it, she said I had a book and I should publish it as my memoir because it could help other people. So I did.

First, I had to split it up into chapters, one for each event, although some crimes were so awful and detailed over time, they took several chapters to describe. When I was done, I split it up into decades, then further into three main parts, the first 20 years, my 20s where most of the crimes took place, and from my 40s on. But it seemed maudlin to me. Thought about trying to spice it up, make it more literary, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. I left every word as I’d written it, in every effing, gory detail, not caring about entertaining a reader or winning a prize. Changing it would be an abomination to me, and somehow less real. Instead, I gave the chapters meaningful headings and added quotes that put the things that happened to me in a much larger social context. The quotes made my memoir into a book. I added an opening and gave my closing thoughts, made a cover, and published it November of 2020. I was finishing series book 12 at the time, but my memoir was the first one I published.

I am a technophobe. This was a huge problem in deciding to self publish my thriller series. But when I went through the arduous process of formatting and covering my memoir, it broke me free if that fear- at least where self publishing was concerned. Why? Because deep inside, I didn’t give a rat’s worthless behind if anyone read it or not. Didn’t care. I wrote every word of my memoir for me, long before it ever became a published memoir. Even my dedication page says, “For me.”

However… before I published, I also had to face my terror at the thought of this book getting into the hands of the criminals who hurt me but never saw justice. They have a lot of power and I had to protect myself from further atrocities, of which I couldn’t even imagine.

So first, I used a pen name. When I originally wrote the journal, I had already left names out, using descriptors instead, like quiet cop, the sergeant, the river, evil uncle, mountain grandma, etc. Some members of my family could have read it and caused me some much pain simply they didn’t believe the clergy in our family were capable is such crimes, much less the elders they respected. I would be made out a liar and a pariah- but I told every truth in spectacular detail. Then there’s law enforcement criminals who have long since retired or died, but I was so afraid of them- physically afraid for very good reason- that they’re the main reason I didn’t use names. After all, I intended for my counselor to read it. The thought of her recognizing someone in my memoir was horrifying and terrifying. So I never wrote names. But I edited out place names that someone might use to figure out the where and then from that the who.

The back cover picture freaked me out! So I put on a covid mask, a head scarf, and giant dark glasses to obscure my face so no one could recognize me in a million years. Didn’t know that I could’ve left that out entirely. 🤷‍♀️

I’m still an amateur writer. Almost everybody is. But now I’ve published all 13 books and have several WIP in my series, as well as planning YA and children’s spin-offs. Including FOUR more memoirs! 🤣 A professional memoir about my 20 years as a piano teacher at inner city rec centers, a homeschooling memoir about my 10 years teaching my autistic son and over achieving daughter while taking care of my grandmother with dementia and renovating the family farm, leading Girl Scouts, cub scouts, and a 4h club, and running a community recycling group with 20,000 members, and at the same time dealing with my own failing health. The third memoir WIP is about the process it took to write and publish, starting when I got sick, interrupted by cPTSD, the memoir and publishing, etc. The fourth memoir is of my journey this year as a disabled woman traveling alone to a writers conference in Vegas and the year long troubles planning it and the crises that happened when I got there.

If people read my books, whether to be entertained by my thrillers or out of curiosity with my memoirs, then fine. If they don’t, just as fine. I write for me, and nobody else. Took me awhile to get to that place in my head because U was worried what other would think. But after I published the memoir, I let loose of that particular fear. Under another pen bam because another author is already publishing under my name, I finally published the 12 thrillers at the same time a couple of months ago, breaking a world record, and got the paperback copies from Amazon 3 days before my flight to Vegas.

As a footnote, I am pleasantly surprised that people seem to be genuinely enjoying reading their way through the series and giving me very good reviews. I had no idea how happy that would make me. 🤷‍♀️ And I talk about my memoir a lot in fb, helping other memoir writers or just telling my story in detail in solidarity with other victims and survivors. Most recently in a thread about a movie about to be released, “Women Talking.” A few bought the memoir. It’s on Amazon at cost. Seems wrong- an abomination- to make money off my terror and horror. Although extremely triggering on every level, I warn people and hope it helps those who read it.

I’ve signed up for a speaker’s bureau but have yet to have a speaking engagement. But I’m most proud of giving writing and publishing classes in my community and helping other authors- many who are writing memoirs- write and publish their books. This is what publishing my memoir has led to. A good thing rising out of the ashes of my life. So disparage me and my memoir(s) all you want. I finally know what all that horror was for and why I had to write it and publish it- to help people, starting with me.
Bob

Post by Bob »

I've interviewed people from the Dalai Lama who millions believe is God...to the so-called everyday person. I found that everyone has something interesting about them. A memoir puts down on paper something that reflects that. I wish my parents/grandparents had written a memoir.
Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post