In his autobiography, Last Words: A Memoir, George Carlin poked a bit of fun at the word memoir by saying it seemed pretentious in the fact that the word could be broken down to mean me-moi (okay, pardon my French). And in the hands of a mastermind like Carlin, a convincing argument for the snootiness of memoirs could be made. But I think we should rattle George’s bones, tear down the pretentious connotation he gave the word, and fully embrace the possibility of me-me as a viable approach to what the word infers.
Memories about me! Who else is there to better tell the tale of me? No one but me, of course! I mean look, I was there, I know every detail, I was Impacted in some way, I…I…I…ME!
Then there is the all important moi. Moi is who we should be writing for before we write for anyone else. Writing truly is art, and art is primarily an expression of what makes the artist tick. When we really dig deep to find those emotions stirred by the events of our daily lives, we can express ourselves fully— we can ‘let it bleed’. When it comes to memoirs, there’s not a better way to discover the essential pieces that complete the puzzle of you.
Even if you have been hiding from those pieces…
Sitting down to write a life story can be a daunting task, and one that most of us would turn into a chronological time line that ends up lacking real depth. Oh, okay— call me arrogant for assuming that you don’t write so deep every word you pen doesn’t weigh ten pounds. But, it’s true, we all over stay our artistic welcome when we push stamina. We miss the hammer blows of moments when we write about eras.
We at Extreme Writing Now have a history of writing of memoir snippets based on prompts presented to us by various gracious folks such as Kim Manley Ort and Mandee Sears. The prompts were designed to jog a memory or two about how we reacted to an event, thing, action, or emotion. Through that ink, each of us discovered a little about ourselves we either forgot, or hid from, and we began to tell the story of me- one piece at a time.
I can say with the greatest of confidence that all those who participated were deeply enriched.
At the urging of my wonderful co-host at EWNN, Sue Reddy-Silverman, starting on Wednesday, September 12th, EWN will once again be publishing weekly memoir prompts (inspired by Abigail Thomas’ Thinking About Memoir (AARP)). As before, there is no time limit for writing and submitting responses to the prompt, no particular order for submission— hell, we don’t care if you want them published or not, just do yourself a huge favor and write them…
…in case you DO want them published, you can either join the site and ask for author credentials (I edit nothing), or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Everyone is more than welcome to join in on the rewarding experience.
What do you think about Carlin’s interpretation of memoirs? Was he right? Or can we have a little self centered attitude to discover the real depths about ourselves?