Here are some of the nuts and bolts I am dealing with at the moment. I am trying to learn how to write a memoir. More specifically, what format a memoir should take. I am in the process of writing a fictional one, a novel in the form of a memoir. I have completed a couple of drafts of my book, and am now circling the wagons, trying to re-imagine how the way I am telling the story might be improved, more thoroughly crafted, guided by the genre.
I checked out about a dozen memoirs from the library in an effort to discover a common form. Some were indistinguishable from an autobiography. Others were reflections on a single event or period in the memoirist’s life. Many had descriptions, a sense of place and dialogue – all the elements of creative nonfiction. But the exercise was not a great deal of help. At least in this crude survey I found no clear form.
I did, however, uncover a book that I think will help me. It is called Memoir: A History by Ben Yagoda. Yagoda has written both biography and autobiography, so I think he can help me understand what my project has me dealing with. As soon as I finish Greg Schwipps’ latest novel, What This River Keeps (which I highly recommend, especially to my fellow Hoosiers!), I’ll begin to take council from Ben. Here’s to hoping.