Tag Archives: memories

Why i wrote a memoir

Nancy Chadwick, Memoir Writer

1st Day

One August afternoon in 1967, Mom dressed me in a navy dress, patterned in tiny white polka dots, with an appliqué of paintbrushes and an artist’s palette in primary colors at the hem, and a white Peter Pan collar around my neck. White anklet socked feet, fitting snuggly into blood-red Mary Janes, anchored my chubby legs. While standing at attention in front of my house’s picture window with my feet together and my hands folded in front, I posed with my heels brushing against the yellow marigolds in full bloom under a toasty blanket of Indian summer sun. My birch tree buddy stood tall and arabesque in front of me, extending its tree branches in effort to shield me from the sun. I was present in those moments as I stood before my house and my tree waiting for my picture to be taken. Life was good.

This was my…

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Memoir: From Reality to Reality

Laughing Penguins

A memoir is often seen as a single-dimensional ‘truth’ about a writer, the writer’s self-expression or confession. A memoir, in in fact, is the writer’s perception of truth, and her need to express that perception in her chosen format.

And so, a memoir is the writer’s journey from reality of lived experience to the reality of ‘worded’ impressions.

There are things in a writer’s life that present themselves unasked, uninvited, right there at her desk; then there are moments that demand the writer’s focused attention to reveal themselves; finally there are faraway wraiths of memories that desperately seek writerly resolve, and vital emotional effort to divulge their core and deepest essence. This is the truth; so is that; and so is that.

On the other side, a reader of a memoir fixes her gaze on a single familiar face: this is what she thought, this is where she ate and…

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The importance of Memoir–capturing memories through writing

Reading and Writing in the Middle

“A memoir,” says Gore Vidal, “is how one remembers one’s own life, while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked. In a memoir it isn’t the end of the world if your memory tricks you and your dates are off by a week or a month as long as you honestly try to tell the truth” (Palimpsest: A Memoir, 1995).

I like to use this Vidal quote as I try to explain the critical concept of “voice” in memoir to my students. I, of course, use examples, from picture books (that “show”in 30 pages or less, fine examples of memoir writing), to excerpts from other sources.

I also like to clarify the differences between memoir and autobiography through providing some take of the following scenario: You and your sister are having coffee in a cafe and in walks a lady who has a striking resemblance…

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Quote: A Record

“A memoir provides a record not so much of the memoirist as the memoirist’s world.”

–Arthur Golden, Memory of a Geisha