it's easy to write one's memoirs when one has a terrible memory

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Maze Runner

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Ha, meaning no need to be accurate? I've never attempted it, but it would seem that the most difficult thing would be to understand your life and yourself. Something most of us have trouble doing. Which reminds me of something a professor of mine said in an acting course I took. This was a guy who'd done quite a bit of work on Broadway, and he said, "Some people go through their entire lives without knowing who they are. An artist doesn't have that luxury."
 

khobar

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the most difficult thing would be to understand your life and yourself.

Which also makes defining, "What's it about" so difficult at times. Worse is when you do understand your life and yourself and still can't pin down what it's about because you don't want to admit it.
 

Jim Williams

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I'm not sure what the quote means. Does it mean a terrible memory at remembering the facts of your own life, or does it mean having that kind of extremely terrible events that make the story interesting regardless?

I've found for myself, having an extreme life as I do, no matter how terribly written my memoir is, the catharsis is tremendous, but not necessarily interesting to read. I think interesting memoirs are primarily dependent on how interesting the story can be made, regardless of the degree of the truth to the story itself.
 
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nadja1972

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My interpretation of the quote is that it's easier to make stuff up when writing one's life story than to really dig into the hard truth of one's own past behavior and choices. People are prone to revising history in their heads until they're not truly remembering anymore, just telling themselves the version of their life story that they want to believe. It's tricky as a memoir writer to peel back those layers of self-delusion.

I love the distinction you make between the catharsis of writing versus the craft of storytelling. It seems like you need both of those to make a compelling memoir.

I'm not sure what the quote means. Does it mean a terrible memory at remembering the facts of your own life, or does it mean having that kind of extremely terrible events that make the story interesting regardless?

I've found for myself, having an extreme life as I do, no matter how terribly written my memoir is, the catharsis is tremendous, but not necessarily interesting to read. I think interesting memoirs are primarily dependent on how interesting the story can be made, regardless of the inherent degree of interest of the story itself.
 

Jim Williams

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I love the distinction you make between the catharsis of writing versus the craft of storytelling. It seems like you need both of those to make a compelling memoir.
All I know is I'm considered to have had an eventful life, and I have lots of sympathies and interest in what has occurred to me. However, in the year since its publishing, I've only had one of these same people express an opinion as to the memoir itself. I may be wrong, but I've taken that to mean my memoir may not be so compelling to read. I can believe that since I still have difficulty reading it. Although it's an accurate account, it reads like a boring textbook.

Thanks for your thoughts.
 
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Jamesaritchie

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It is, unfortunately, all too true. Far too many writers write novels, and call them memoirs.
 

under the moon

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"All I know is I'm considered to have had an eventful life... However, in the year since its publishing, I've only had one of these same people express an opinion as to the memoir itself. I may be wrong, but I've taken that to mean my memoir may not be so compelling to read...."

Well, I love the title. "All My Friends Were Me." Isn't everyone represented in our dreams supposed to be a variation on ourself? Not having read it, I don't know, obviously, but your memoir may be plenty compelling but possibly somewhat unrelatable because the events are so "out of the box"? Is that paradox possible, I wonder...?
 
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KTC

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I'm a Revisionist Memoirist
 

chompers

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Haha, the title made me laugh.

Also, I noticed people will also remember events differently than it really happened, as a defense mechanism.
 

Jim Williams

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"All I know is I'm considered to have had an eventful life... However, in the year since its publishing, I've only had one of these same people express an opinion as to the memoir itself. I may be wrong, but I've taken that to mean my memoir may not be so compelling to read...."

Well, I love the title. "All My Friends Were Me." Isn't everyone represented in our dreams supposed to be a variation on ourself? Not having read it, I don't know, obviously, but your memoir may be plenty compelling but possibly somewhat unrelatable because the events are so "out of the box"? Is that paradox possible, I wonder...?
Something I find very difficult to relay is the difference between the imaginary characters in a dream and an auditory hallucination. What I experienced (but not for 13 years) was much closer to the "voices made me do it" defense, except the "voices" I heard, were, as a rule, friendly, and where my title comes from. A difference between a dream voice and in my experience an auditory hallucination voice is that, one, it comes from outside the person, like someone next to you speaking to you out loud, and, two, speaks under its own motivation. For me, I would have to listen in rapt attention, (or, even over the sound of other real people speaking) to what the voice had to say. The voice is real, and you know it's not a dream. Except, it isn't. All the "hearing voices" part of my memoir are from what I had no choice in hearing.

Thank you for your wondering. All I can think of to add is all the "spirits" found themselves to be ordinary to each other. I'll stay with, "truth is stranger than fiction."
 
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morngnstar

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Maybe it means fiction is better than real life. If you can't remember the details, you'll fill them in with creativity, and the result is more interesting.
 

nadja1972

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I could never make up shit that was anywhere near as intense or as interesting as the stuff I've been through.

Me too! I worked on a novel version of my story for a long time before realizing that "what actually happened" is way more interesting. Then the tricky part became deciding how much I could reasonably ask the reader to endure. Had to leave a bunch of crazy stuff out.
 

sommemi

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As far as the quote, it's obvious it could be interpreted many ways, although during my writing today I would say it really hit home as I started a story years ago RIGHT after an event, but only got half way done typing it. Today, as I was trying to finish the story, I realized it wasn't so much of a story anymore because I couldn't remember half of what happened or what the amazingly funny incident was that I wanted to share originally! I've also gone back and re-read a story that was typed years ago, however while I was reading it I was like "holy cow, I totally forgot about that! I'm so glad I wrote that right away or I would have never remembered all that happened!" (right now I'm thinking about the birth story of my son as an example... when I retell it to him in person 8 years later, it is much less interesting and WAY shorter!)

As far as reading your own memoirs though, it might be that when you originally typed it, you told the story, fact for fact, and maybe didn't put in things like motivations or reasoning or feelings with it. Often, the tale is crazy or odd or unique enough that it's really interesting and astounding, but if not told with feeling then it can be less exciting to read.

For example: Today as I was leaving a meeting at work, I saw that it was pouring rain outside. My coworker stopped and hesitated at the door, at which point I noticed she wasn't wearing a coat so I offered her a ride to her building. It was a short drive so to finish our conversation, we sat in the parking lot for a while to finish our conversation before parting ways.
Rewritten: I was leaving the meeting feeling energized and excited about everything we had talked about. The people I had just spent the last hour with were new to me, but it wasn't our first time meeting. My initial nervousness talking to them had worn off and I was really enjoying this new friendship I was developing with a new group of people I hadn't worked with before. Two of us were walking out of the building talking to each other, and as we got to the door, I noticed that she stopped and said "Oh no." I saw the rain outside, but it took me a second to register why she seemed so put out by it. She didn't have a coat on. "Do you have to walk back to your office or are you parked here?" I asked her. When I found out she was going to have to walk to her office, I offered her a ride. She didn't want to inconvenience me, but to be honest, being able to give her a ride to her office made me feel like I was investing in a friendship, and friends were in short supply for me at that moment.....

See what I mean? Is that possibly what you are seeing? Are you describing facts in your book, or are you describing emotions? Orrrrr.... could you be assuming that people don't like your book while really they are just lazy and haven't had time to give you a good review of them?
 

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