Why I’m Writing a Memoir, Part 2

Processed with VSCOcam with x1 presetI’m reading a book about memoir writing called HANDLING THE TRUTH: ON THE WRITING OF MEMOIR, which a new writer friend named Jamie Krug recommended. In the book, Beth Kephart urges memoirists to have an articulate answer when someone ask “‘Why’d you want to write a memoir anyway?'”

I’ve already written on this topic, but here’s a new list to answer that salient question of WHY:

    • I’m writing so someone might feel less alone.
    • I’m writing to make sense of love, a word I’ve easily thrown around.
    • I’m writing because women’s voices need to be heard, especially on the subjects of sex and drinking and the sex that happens bc of drinking.
    • I’m writing to explore how technology has changed and how it affects our relationships.
    • I’m writing because I know somewhere right now on some college campus some girl is going through what I did.
    • I’m writing because we make stupid decisions when we are young, but we can learn from them.
    • I’m  strong not writing because I think my story is unique or special but because I think my story is too common but too untold.

This last sentence is the most important to me. I’ve read memoirs — a CHILD CALLED IT comes to mind — that shock me to my core, memoirs that explore a life so different from my own, memoirs that tell of extraordinary stories. My story is not a WILD or a GLASS CASTLE or the new-released MY STORY by Elizabeth Smart who was kidnapped from her bedroom by knifepoint when she was 14.

In Kephart’s book, she also quotes one of my favorite writers Patricia Hampl: “True memoir is written, like all of literature, in an attempt to find not only a self but a world.” Then Kephart writes, “What world do you live in? And how will you bridge your world to mine? And what will you say when somebody asks you: What is your memoir about?

It’s an important question — one that writers, sometimes, hate to answer, I think. So, what’s your book about? Umm, how do I answer that in a sentence? But it’s a question I find myself asking other writers, too, even though it’s a question I despise myself. Perhaps, Kephart is right though; we better be able to defend our book even if that means summarizing it.

Kephart warns of the “pseudo memoirists” who will explain the specific personal event that sparked the book in the first place. Here’s a pseudo-synopsis of my book: My memoir is about a ten-year on-and-off-again relationship and how it affected me. Kephart writes, “The pseudos haven’t climbed out of their own small circles yet. The pseudos haven’t connected with the larger world, or their readers.”

I don’t want to be a pseudo. So, if you ask me, What’s your memoir about?

Here’s my answer: My memoir explores how our ideas of love change over time as we change — how sometimes the love you thought you needed is not love after all.

What’s your book about? Tell us in the comments!


I think I want this crazy life | 13 March 2006

photo-47Belle has fleas and they keep biting me. This is the last thing I want to deal with right now. I need to take her to the vet tomorrow and I need to go to the TSU library to work on invite stuff.

Mike and I tried on wedding bands today. Everything is feeling more real. We have a wedding coordinator who will hopefully put my mind at ease.

There is still a lot of work to do — and school will get so insane. And then I need to make poetry.

Rereading S. Plath and some of her journals and her bio — and I think I want this crazy life. All I want to do & can’t live up to.

Life stops us — but we, most of anyway, keep trying.

Chapter 2 Edits

Chapter 2 is complete. For now. I'm traveling this weekend with my youngest son. Excited to take a break from this memoir. Monday, I move on to chapter 3, back in time, high school, the place I found love for the first time.

Chapter 2 is complete. For now. I’m traveling this weekend with my youngest son. Excited to take a break from this memoir. Monday, I move on to chapter 3, back in time, high school, the place I found love for the first time.

To see more Instagrams of my writing process for my memoir, please visit http://www.evelynalauer.com/instagraming-my-book/ or follow me on Instagram (@evelynalauer)

The moment is gone, my wedding | 19 June 2006

wedding-225x300I was too busy to write — which saddens me, and the moment is gone, my wedding — so beautiful and perfect and fun, my dream, just as I wanted it, and my unexpected nervousness and everyone there.

I really can’t describe how amazing it was, the whole weekend in my favorite place in the world. Mike is my husband, and I will hold him like an oak barrel holds wine and we will love this life together.

Mike and I move in less than 2 weeks, so that’s my project for this week and next. Then I go to Paris. Then I’m in Austin for a week or 2 and then I have to go to Mily/Chicago for Becky & Josie’s bachelorette parties. It’s a busy summer, and then, hopefully, in August I can write and submit poems until school begins and I have to start thinking about teaching again. It’s going to go by fast as it always does.

When do I begin to write for real? | 6 July 2006

Paris — Here visiting Kelly. I’m at her apartment; she is still at work. It was a long day of traveling, but I’m starting to feel better. We’re going out to dinner and leaving tomorrow for Burgundy.

I feel unfrozen right now — and I’m not sure what that means. American music coming from the windows below and everything seems more lovely from here.

When do I begin to write for real? Am I not? The failure associated with what I’m doing — the life I’ve chosen to live. Bishop wrote here and Stein and, of course, Camus. They say this city is magic.

The wishful thinking had become just thoughts, her mind like a message in a bottle. She had it all, but