A critical building block of your memoir should be emotion.
This can be particularly difficult for boomers and seniors to incorporate in their life stories. Although many have an urge to tell their stories, they can be hampered by the constraints of privacy and circumspection their generation often absorbed as children.
I see this often when I teach boomers and seniors; truth be told, I suffer from it myself. We’re more comfortable telling our stories from 40,000 feet above the earth, as if they happened to someone else. We might have yelled, “Let it all hang out,” at some point in our youth, but we find it terribly difficult to do that now.
You Want Readers, Don’t You?
But your audience—even if it’s “just” family members—wants to know how you really felt, how it felt to experience the public and personal events you did.
Readers are seeking the emotional significance of and in your life. They want to connect with you. They’re not going along for the ride. They want to be part of the ride.
If you felt doubt or fear, your readers want to know it. Disgust? Show them what that was like. When you triumphed, if you triumphed, they want to hear the audience’s applause and ride the waves of victory with you.
As I tell my students, if you write a boring memoir or autobiography, not even family members will read it. They’ll avoid you at the next social function, just so they don’t have to admit that they fell asleep over your book before they got to page 5.
Make Sure Your Life Story is a Story
The next post will address another element of “story” in your memoir writing.
Share Your Story
And if you struggle to add emotion to your memoir writing or have a strategy for doing it without being too uncomfortable, please leave a comment!