10 Ways to Write an Unforgettable Memoir | Shayla Raquel

jeshoots-com-219386-unsplash

Check out this most excellent post from Shayla on writing a memoir. Number One is a most important point. I always wanted to write a memoir but I stopped writing the drafts and deleted the sneak peeks I’d shared with my email list (so embarrassing lol) and decided to start over. I’ve learned so much since then with one of the major things being the difference between a memoir and autobiography.

1. Learn the differences between a memoir and an autobiography.
A common mistake is to pour your heart and soul into a book and market it as the wrong genre. An autobiography is a chronological telling of your life, but a memoir hones in on a specific timeline or event. It doesn’t mean you can’t have flashbacks or backstory; you can. But you must understand the big and subtle differences between the two before you write, publish, and market your story.

Ask yourself:

  • Does my story reflect on my entire life (autobiography), or a key aspect, theme, or event (memoir)?
  • Does my story start at the beginning of my life and progress to the end (autobiography), or does it start anywhere and move around in time and place (memoir)?
  • Does my story require hours of fact-checking (autobiography), or is it more personal, requiring less fact-checking (memoir)?

“A memoir is how one remembers one’s own life, while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked.”

—Gore Vidal, Palimpsest

Read more of Shayla’s Guest Post by clicking through to the original post here.

Advertisements

Why Memoirs are Special

equipeng95“…it is difficult for those who publish their own memoirs to escape the imputation of vanity. Nor is this the only disadvantage under which they labor: it is also their misfortune, that whatever is uncommon is rarely, if ever, believed, and from what is obvious we are apt to turn away in disgust, and to charge the writer of it with impertinence.” – Gustavus Vass (Olaudah Equiano)

So, why do I want to tell my story? Why has the itch to spill the beans of my background always been with me? Some may call it a dream, but I call it a challenge. Of all the books I’ve written, writing my life story is one of my greatest challenges and I hope to conquer it real soon. I feel like I have not completely exhausted my writing endeavors until I have written a story of my life. I’ve danced with the idea off and on since childhood. Funny thing is before I was even finished living I knew I wanted to share my testimony. I’ve even gone as far as writing chapters and chapters, only to rip it up and start all over again. Truth is I am still learning all that goes into writing a memoir. I love the way

Maya Angelou for example, fictionalized herself in “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”. Not in the sense of creating a false image, but by fictionalized I mean she was able to present a real-life story that reads like fiction. To recreate real-life experiences that jump from the page with all of the excitement that comes from reading a good novel. Here, Angelou lends us her eyes and we are able to see her world in the most real, yet entertaining way possible. While there are various ways to which individuals have gone to write their stories, I imagine there is still an art to it; an art I am still learning to master and I hope to begin this journey real soon. (I’ll be 28 this year, maybe I should wait till I’m like 30 …yea, that’s a nice medium number….lol j/k, I know the next day’s not promised, let alone the next two years, even though it may just take that long, but I digress)

Primarily, I want to share my story because I am a person of a deep passion for helping people in the spirit of teaching. Not teaching in the organized setting of things, teaching the basic principle of acquiring and passing on information. Teaching in the sense of taking what I’ve learned and passing it on. I love sharing information and I believe information exists to be shared. And if it’s the right kind of information, it can be a positive influence in someone else’s life. Have you ever been in a room of darkness and found that after searching for some time someone turned on the light? And then you laugh at yourself for seeing the switch was right there? That’s how it is when someone has taught me something. I love advice because I love to learn. And I love to learn because I love discipline. If ever I’m hard on you, know it’s because I expect double from myself. As I tell my students, “Mediocrity is not an option. If you’re going to do something, do it well or don’t do it at all.”

In addition, I want to share my story because we live in a world that teaches us to fear our past transgressions, mistakes, experiences, trials, etc. The world tells us to keep our “skeletons in the closet” and to wear the impenetrable mask of pretentiousness. Not only have I never had the ability to not show my true feelings, but being transparent in my opinion is what helps build strong relationships, which is what the writing process is all about. There are ups and downs but the struggle itself is what helps to build character. It helps us to create a bridge of commonality between those who are still lost in whatever capacity and those who have found the strength to endure.

While we can write post after post about inspiration, nothing is more inspiring than truth. To see that someone is going through, or has gone through, what you yourself are going through and to witness their strength is more powerful than any quote I could ever give you. Our past, our burdens, and our moments of pain are not weaknesses. They are instead a showcase of humility; like a collection of light in a cistern of water that illuminates. It illustrates that the fruit of sorrow is unmistakably esteem and deliverance. And this is what I wish to share with my readers. Eventually.