Childhood or adulthood?

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gettingby

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Okay, the memoir section on here has been a little too quiet recently. And I'm just a little curious how people decide what section of their lives make for a good memoir. Are you guys writing about your childhood or your adult life? And how did you decide?

I have been working on a memoir from my adult life. Then I got this writing assignment to write about my childhood. It was a short assignment, but after that I continued to explore and write more. I now have 50 or so pages of a childhood memoir. I probably have a little more done on my adult-life memoir, but they're close. And I'm not sure which one I should be putting more effort into at this point in time.
 

nadja1972

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Which material seems more compelling to you? Maybe you should focus on that first. You could also write both and then see if there are ways to connect the two. Lots of adult memoirs weave in childhood flashbacks.

I am writing about my adult life because it's the more interesting part of my story. My childhood memoir would be about having an alcoholic father, which has already been written about a lot. I don't have any new or fascinating insights to add to that topic.

I guess another question would be: why are you writing a memoir? Is it to process things that have happened to you, or to share your story with the world, or what? Maybe if you're clear about your goals, it would help you understand what part of your life to focus on?
 

Chris P

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It depends on what you want to talk about. Childhood or adulthood itself is too broad to write a memoir about.

If I wanted to write about my relationship with my brother, who died when I was 20, then I would necessarily have to write about my childhood. A memoir about my marriage would have to be as an adult, and my experiences with religion would involve both.
 

gettingby

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Which material seems more compelling to you? Maybe you should focus on that first. You could also write both and then see if there are ways to connect the two. Lots of adult memoirs weave in childhood flashbacks.

I am writing about my adult life because it's the more interesting part of my story. My childhood memoir would be about having an alcoholic father, which has already been written about a lot. I don't have any new or fascinating insights to add to that topic.

I guess another question would be: why are you writing a memoir? Is it to process things that have happened to you, or to share your story with the world, or what? Maybe if you're clear about your goals, it would help you understand what part of your life to focus on?

My two memoirs don't really blend together at all. But I see what you're saying and how some people do take multiple times in their lives to tell one story. I will have to give this a little more thought, but, as of now, I can't really see how to do this for the pieces I'm working on.

Why am I writing a memoir? Good question. Ideally, I write to be published. And I see both my projects as having some reader appeal. But I try not to think too much about that because I don't want to hold back in my first drafts. It's harder for me to expose my life if I think about publishing too much.

I'm not sure which I am more compelled to write. I guess that's why I am writing both of them. Each of these started as essays. I would say my adult memoir is a little harder because it feels like I'm telling all my secrets. That's not really what I am doing, but the feeling is there. I am still very close to that time in my life. What happened then has a direct connection to who I am today.

My childhood memoir has just been growing quite organically. It's fun to write, and I'm happy with the writing. It also all happened so long ago that I have had more time to reflect. Still, my adult memoir would probably be easier to sell. I do want to write both, but I don't want to spread myself too thin.
 

gettingby

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It depends on what you want to talk about. Childhood or adulthood itself is too broad to write a memoir about.

If I wanted to write about my relationship with my brother, who died when I was 20, then I would necessarily have to write about my childhood. A memoir about my marriage would have to be as an adult, and my experiences with religion would involve both.

I will say that my adult memoir has a clear story. My childhood memory is the story of my childhood pretty much as a whole. But the writing is just flowing and I've been very happy with what I've gotten down so far. I think there is a lot in the way a story is told that can make it compelling. Sometimes I feel like I could write a million memoirs. Okay, not that many, but I kind of see my life as collection of stories. Deciding which ones to tell can be tricky.
 

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