Friday, July 23, 2021

Memoir's Primary Argument: Making Sure Your Memoir Is Universal, Not Just Personal

I've always loved this quote by Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild: "The most powerful strand in memoir is not expressing your originality. It's tapping in to your universality."

That's confused a lot of my students, though. What's universal have to do with anything? This is a story about me, my journey, my pain and discoveries.

Yes, in the early drafts, it is. Your conversation is a bit like the character from Stranger Than Fiction who talks to himself in the mirror. I mean this in the best possible way: we have to talk to ourselves to get the true story on the page. If we bring in invisible readers too soon, to member will lack authenticity.