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Tuesday, April 26, 2022

The Self-Important Writer

     A memoir takes a certain amount of arrogance to write…One must think one's life is important or interesting enough to palm off on an unsuspecting public. At least fiction writers have the pretense that their work has more to do with their characters than with themselves. Still, I doubt you'd find much of a difference between a memoir writer and a fiction writer in the humility department.
     Or maybe memoir writers tend more toward exhibitionism, are more willing--eager, in fact--to slap their cards on the table and squawk, "Read 'em and weep." The fiction writer, cagier, plays his hand close to his vest, pretends he knows how to bluff.
     If you write your life down on the page, beginning with "I was born in…" and ending with, "As I pen these immortal words, I gasp my last breath," what you've probably got is a self-indulgent autobiography, not a memoir. A memoir usually deals with a portion of one's life--say, childhood--not the life in its entirety.
Robin Hemley, Turning Life Into Fiction, 1994


  1. Hi. I'm not sure people have to be arrogant to write a memoir. Not everyone wants to publish their memoir for the general population. Many people just want to have a memoir of their life for their family and future generations to have.
    Many people want to know about the lives of their great grandparents, and by writing your memoir, you are leaving a gift for your great grandchildren

  2. And yet there are pivotal moment in everyone’s life that are worth noting and retelling for the lessons learned. Writing about one’s life under the guise of realistic fiction or a true story can satisfy this hunger to get that story out.