One of my favorite authors on the topics of writing and memoir is Natalie Goldberg (I’ve already quoted her previously). Please let me know what you think of this quotation from the introduction to her 2007 volume.
Think of the word: memoir. It comes from the French mémoire. It is the study of memory, structured on the meandering way we remember. Essentially it is an examination of the zigzag nature of how our mind works. The thought of Cheerios ricochets back to a broken fence in our backyard one Nebraska spring, then hops over to the first time we stood before a mountain and understood kindness. A smell, a taste–and a whole world flares up…
We are a dynamic country, fast-paced, ever onward. Can we make sense of love and ambition, pain and longing? in the center of our speed, in the core of our forward movement, we are often confused and lonely. That’s why we have turned so full-heartedly to the memoir form. We have an intuition that it can save us. Writing is the act of reaching across the abyss of isolation to share and reflect. It’s not a diet to become skinny, but a relaxation into the fat of our lives. Often without realizing it, we are on a quest, a search for meaning. What does our time on this earth add up to?
–Natalie Goldberg, Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir