Today I read an article by Theo Pauline Nestor answering the question “Why Writing a Memoir Might Actually Make You Happier“, and found myself agreeing with her completely. However, writing a memoir is something that is done by most as a hobby and is usually never intended to be read by millions.
I have written a daily journal for years, but I would never publish the thing. It’s full of personal information that would only be understood by people very close to me and in some cases would be utter nonsense. Memoirs that are meant to be read by others are interesting and usually teach us something about the human condition through commentary on true events.
Three of my favorite memoirs intended for public reading are Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, On Writing by Stephen King and Born Standing Up by Steve Martin. All three of these memoirs are interesting and powerful. I love McCourt for his brutally honest portrayal of growing up poor in Ireland. I love King’s confessional about his writing process and how he rose to fame while remaining humble. I love Martin’s wonderful retrospective on his stand up career and his love of philosophy which leads him to a desire to make people laugh. All three of these are excellent modern examples of how memoirs can be readable and enjoyable.
I mainly write my own memoir for personal reflection and to cause my writing juices to flow. I personally do not feel that my life is worth the time someone would take to read about it. Quite frankly, they would be extremely bored. One should only try to publish their memoir if they are famous, have a unique story that people can learn from, or if they overcame some horrible tragedy that could help others overcome their own.
This is why I have a memoir that no one will read. It is personal, and I will keep it that way. If I become world renown, then possibly…but probably not.