What is a memoir?

April 22, 2019

The glib answer is, of course, whatever you want it to be. 

But there's more to it than that. Something deeper. The question needs editing. What is your memoir? What do you want your story to be? If you decide to leave a record of your life to posterity, what stories will you share? What lessons will you impart? 

The answer is still the same, however. After all, it's your story.

Tell it however you want to tell it. 

The word memoir comes from the French mémoire, or reminiscence.

So in essence, your memoir is how you remember your own story, with its many events and characters and situations, all perceived through the veil of time, which can create both new insights and altered impressions. The story of one's life will naturally evolve over its own course, like a river which alters its path by eroding its shoreline over time. Things change, people change, and your memories will change, too.

Your story written at age 21 will be different from your story told at 35, or 70, or 106. 

But don't worry about that. Just go with the flow. 

You may or may not remember some things exactly as they happened. Others may feel etched in stone. That's natural. Just tell your story as you see it now, with the benefit of experience and hindsight. 

It may help some to imagine their story as a novel, with themselves as the protagonist. Others may prefer an epistolary approach, perhaps writing their story as a letter to their children. Some may need a ghostwriter to draw out their memories in a series of interviews.

Whatever approach you take, your story has value, both to yourself and to others. The benefit to you is that of unburdening. It feels good to get things off your chest, to reflect on your life and share what you've learned. And those lessons have value to those who read your story, be they family and friends or perfect strangers. 

The urge to share your story is powerful, and innately human. The very first memoirs were likely etched or painted onto the walls of caves. 

So, what is a memoir? What is your memoir? 

It's your heart and soul. It's your story. It's you.

Everybody has a story. If you need help telling yours, call us at 323-539-7635 or send us an email.

We'll make your cave wall a beautiful sight to behold.