Skip to main content

Memoir

The requirement of an autobiographer is that he write the "truth of his experience", but memory is a delicate subject now isn't it? When my family gets together, inevitably the talk turns to "remember when?" One brother will start to tell that story of how my mother dumped water over his head to wake him up and the rest of us will roll our eyes at each other remembering how it really happened. It is a time and a place, memory, but it is also a person. One person. One person who remembers it as it was for her. We must read a memoir as if it were her truth which means much of the lines will smudge together where we won't be able to read in between. We must be okay with that. Perception is reality after all.

I've been writing a whole lot about myself lately and I often think about a quote from the literary journal Creative Nonfiction: something about how your family will hate you once you start writing about them. I'm careful when I write. I'm careful to tell it only from what I saw without judgement (where possible) and without consideration about why that person was doing what he or she was doing. Of course memoir includes 20/20 hindsight and so I might now know what was happening from a grown ups perspective, but I'm trying not to include that part. I leave the reflection in my writing notebook when I can.

My dear friend Tara Smith who is a 6th grade teacher and blogger at A Teaching Life told me to read Writing A Life and I'm so glad she did. I am going to be teaching a workshop on memoir as I'm writing my own and this book is helping me in so many ways.
I'm also going to be reading memoirs all year long. I may sneak in one or two other books (I'm dying to read Sara Pennypacker's new Pax that's coming out next month), but for the most part I want to read about how people remember their lives and share them in words. If you've read an autobiography that moved you, please do share it in the comments!

Comments

  1. At the root of the word memoir is memory. I worry that I don't remember enough to really write about my life. I recently read a local author's memoir about living with HIV. But there has to be a way to write memoir even if your life is not traumatic or tragic, right? I need to get Katherine Bomer's book. I look forward to seeing where you go with this.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

5 Ways to Help Gifted Kids Find Their Gifts

When I work with gifted kids, I'm amazed by their lack of understanding about what interests them. They know how to surf the net exhaustively for Youtube videos that make them laugh, but not what skills and practices further their interests.

Developing interests and passions is critical to these students. Many people out there tell me that this is not just for gifted kids, that their average developing child needs to know how to do this too. While of course I agree that this is true, I also think that typical academic, fine arts, and sports programs are available in most communities are enough to engage and motivate most kids. Not true of gifted children who become jaded, disinterested, and shut down quickly when a program doesn't meet their needs.
Most people think of gifted students as being prodigies who know exactly where their gifts lie. This couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, I often question if some children who are identified as gifted will ever find thei…

Moo by Sharon Creech

I moved to Maine in 1982. I was a thirteen year old freshman in high school fresh out of a childhood in New York City. It sounds more exotic than it really was. The Maine I moved into wasn't so rustic. The town, Cape Elizabeth, is quite upwardly mobile––think Boston suburb. I remember distinctly the day my friends told me we were headed to the Fryeburg Fair. I had been to a few Maine county fairs over the summers I spent Downeast on the coast of Maine, so I knew what to expect. The 4H clubs mesmerized me. These kids who took such control of large livestock were amazing. They knew what they were doing. They were all pig whisperers and lamb crooners. These animals I knew nothing about in the real world were kept clean, safe and show-worthy by kids who looked to be no more than nine or ten years old. At sixteen or so, I felt too old to learn how but man did I want to join that club.
Wordsmith Sharon Creech has come out with the new middle grade novel, Moo. It is kind of a verse nove…

DigiLit Sunday: Relationships

In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf..

On Sunday, I interviewed a woman named Julie Lindsay. She lives in Australia and started a company called Flat Connections. Her message to me was that Web 2.0 tools have changed the face of education. It brought the walls down so that we could all reach each other.

On  Monday, I read a book by Pernille Ripp, a teacher living in Wisconsin. In Reimagining Literacy through Global Connections, Ripp's message to me was to keep it simple when going global, the students just need to know they can connect and share who they are.

On Tuesday, I voxed Julieanne Harmatz. "Let's do this!" I said. "I've got a fourth grade, you've got a fifth. Mine is in Maine, yours is in California. Let's read together and share thoughts." She agreed.

On Wednesday, Julieanne emailed suggestions for three books she had multiple copies of. I book talked them to my students that afternoon.

On Thursday, I worked online with…