Writing a memoir

“I was forced to acknowledge all over again that writing is not life, or even truth, but merely fragments of both, imperfect reflections. There will always be moments and emotions which refuse to be caught, dark undertows which will never break the surface. Life will always exceed the writer’s inadequate grasp, no matter how radiant the genius.” –Susan Johnson; a better woman: a memoir

A book my father gave me, which I initially had little interest in, turned out to be one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. It’s called a better woman: a memoir by Susan Johnson. She usually writes fiction so I’d never heard of her, but the memoir, oh the memoir, is all it takes to hook me. Her writing is simply beautiful. I could never write like that. But, how I want to. She makes me consider paying thousands of dollars to get a degree in writing and study with the masters.

Michelle (left); Jennifer (right) dreaming of future memoir signings..

I don’t read fiction. If it didn’t happen or I can’t learn from it, I’m not interested. My favorite type of non-fiction is memoir. And I don’t care about famous people’s memoirs. I like stories of people I’ve never heard of, who take me into another place in time, another culture I’ve never lived. They don’t have to be life or death stories, they just have to be real. It reminds me again of my English professor my freshman year of college in Alaska. “Everyone has a story,” she told the class. “As a writer, it’s your job to seek them out and write them down.” That professor changed my life. I look for people’s stories everywhere I go.

Granted, I do gravitate to books where someone is lost in the forest or stuck floating on an iceberg, and there’s no possible way they could ever survive. And then they do. Out of sheer will.

I originally wrote 350 pages for my first book, only to scrap the whole thing, realizing it was but an outline of the actual story I wanted to tell. I never realized writing my life would be so much fun, or so time-consuming. Even if I never get published, if no one sits in a chair with my story and feels like they know me, I will accomplish my goal–if I can just get the damn thing finished.

Jennifer writing...and writing....and writing...

“No!” Michelle says. “We have a means to an end here. It pushes us to finish! We will get published, hit the best seller list and be famous. They will make movies out of our books.”

I laugh. That’s every writer’s dream.

Michelle, always looking at the positive...

Well, Michelle was right about the contest….

“Great writing does not equal a great life.” –Susan Johnson; a better woman

I’ve had a great life. A great, great life. Now, if I can just write it down…


About Jennifer

Environmentalist. Writer. Navy wife. Mama. Gardener. Crock-pot fanatic.
This entry was posted in How it all began and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Writing a memoir

  1. You say you’ve had a great life as though it was over!
    Live on. Write on. Your story is amazing, and not only because it is about you (and you are amazing.)
    It truly is fascinating. And to be able to have a glimpse at what went on inside your head and your heart while you were living a life most of us dream of but few have the gumption to do – well, that’s where it gets touching. Riveting.
    I’ve decided that I want to get my book published first… only so that I can put a blurb on the cover of yours!

  2. Pingback: On Writing That Book | anniegirl1138

  3. Pingback: Life Gets in the Way of Writing Memoir | Clarbojahn's Blog

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