Past or present?

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starrykitten

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Trying to google this turned up a bunch of results, but I wanted to poll other writers here.

If you have an across-the-board answer, do you tend to prefer a past-tense memoir or a present-tense one?

If you have an "it depends" answer, on what does it depend?

I'm working on a memoir essay for a theme issue and feel inclined to make it present tense so it's more like the reader is there with me. Are there any arguments against that?
 

Siri Kirpal

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Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Both work well for some things and not so well for others. Yes, present tense is better for immediacy. It's the best if your memoir has lots of action and little reflection. Past tense allows more reflection and it's easier to flashback if you need to.

Do whatever works.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

starrykitten

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Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Both work well for some things and not so well for others. Yes, present tense is better for immediacy. It's the best if your memoir has lots of action and little reflection. Past tense allows more reflection and it's easier to flashback if you need to.

Do whatever works.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Tangent: I take Kundalini yoga, and our mantra is "Sat Nam!" It was nice to see that.

Thank you for your opinion. I started writing in present tense, and the floodgates opened, so I think that's a good sign.
 

Siri Kirpal

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Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Good to see you on board! Yes, I used to teach KY. (In case you're wondering, I continued to give the translation for any other folks who might be wandering in.)

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

trumpetology

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I've actually written mine entirely in both tenses. Then decided that present worked best. It allowed me to be more "stupid," less reserved and present my semi-psychotic thoughts as "reality" since they were to me at the time.

I get the impression there's a preference for past tense, but you'll find all kinds that work. One warning: writing in the present tense is tiresome (for me). I feel all the emotions as if they are happening all over again. I feel the pain, the joy, the defeats and triumphs. My hope is that the emotional energy I am getting translates to the page.

As for Billtrumpet25: do we have two trumpeters/memoirists here???
 

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