It took me over twenty-two years to write my memoir. I used to think God (or whomever you believe bestows us with our innate abilities) gave me only half a talent just to torture me, but ultimately I realized I just had to work harder than I ever dreamed I could.
I have a formula for the process I went through writing my memoir:
agony + (obsession x conflict) + panic + 10,000 drafts – total crap = finished memoir.
I did write hundreds, if not thousands of drafts and I definitely threw away thousands of pages of total crap! But the process was extremely rewarding, and I would recommend it to anyone who has the desire to find and write his or her story. I figure I could have had three PhDs at least for the time and energy I spent on my memoir, but I don’t regret a single day I spent working on it. (I kind of regret the unearned PhDs, but that’s another story.) But not only did I mentor my younger self through writing my story, but the writing process mentored me in turn, providing lessons on writing and life I could never have learned in a classroom or a therapy session.
The other wonderful thing about writing a memoir is that you spin gold out of straw – you make something useful and even beautiful out of what may have originally been heartbreak or simply a big mess. In my case, I was largely ignored in my family; my parents were more focused on my brother who was a budding scientist like my dad. I didn’t exhibit any special talent or intelligence so why should anyone pay attention to me? At the time this was difficult. But I don’t regret it now because it’s part of my story, of who I am and how events shaped me. And there is something to be said for being left alone! Because no one paid much attention to me, including my teachers, I paid a lot of attention to myself, particularly to what was going on in my mind. This made me the writer that I am.
If you are interested in an editor or writing coach for your memoir, please see the coaching section of my website.