So Many Questions

I’ve done a little research on memoir writing. While it’s obvious that a personal writing project is going to be a different experience for everyone, I am a little worried that I have no clue what I’m doing. 

As a writer, I’ve always been comfortable with fiction, and when it comes to nonfiction, I’m really comfortable with the personal essay. I  love writing essays, but I don’t want my memoir to be a collection of essays. In fact, I don’t really know what kind of structure I want for my memoir. Should it be funny? Focus on the sad? What angle should I take? What am I going to focus on? What’s interesting about my life, interesting enough that people will want to read it?

Then I have to ask myself, is it about people reading it? Or am I just being my own historian? What is the purpose of this project? Is it a challenge? Should it just be cathartic? Should I think about an audience? Who is this audience? 

Since I’m not sure what I’m doing, I’m debating spending the next month reading a bunch of memoirs, but I have no clue where to begin. Any suggestions? Any memoirs I should be checking out? 

I’m already getting stressed out by this project. I’m committed to it–the way I was committed to writing my thesis, even more so because it’s important that I get a big writing project done. It’s also one of those projects that pushes me out of my comfort zone. A project that pushes me is something I need right now. Still, I’m scared that I’ll start this project, and it will be an epic fail. 

Want to help?

Please suggest some memoirs for me to check out. I’m not sure what approach I’m going to take so funny, sad, unique, thrilling whatever kind of adjective memoir you can think of, suggest it. 



  1. I would read the Preface or Introduction of Twentieth Century Journey, vol. 1, by William L.Shirer. It’s a good summary of memoir writing. The public library of a good sized city ought to have it. The first volume of Mark Twain’s Autobiography, 2011, UC Press, also has good passes on autobiography/memoirs.

  2. I’m reading The Most of Nora Ephron right now. I’d say anything by her would be helpful. Oh and if you haven’t read Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking, you will certainly want to – it’s about the year after her husband’s death.

    Enjoy this journey of discovering what wants to be birthed by you!

    1. Thanks! I’ve read excerpts of Joan Didion’s memoir and have wanted to read the whole thing. I guess I’ll just have to read it. I’m reading Hemingway’s Moveable Feast right now. I’m hoping to finish it by Tuesday and will write about it when I’m done.

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