If you’ve been wanting to become a memoirist, here’s your first lesson, called “Commas can kiss my ass!” It’s also my very first video. Comments are welcome! Go ahead, let me have it. Basically, the thing is, don’t let a fear of getting your grammar and punctuation wrong hold you back from putting words on that page. Yeah, yeah, I know … you may be the type of aspiring memoirist that’s unafraid to just clutter up the page with all kinds of stuff and make it a hot mess. That’s okay, this video still has some great tips in it for you.
A memoirist remembers “What” and asks “Why.”
Once you’re over your fear of putting commas in the wrong places, you’ll then have to actually write something. Here’s what to write: remember what you did in life, then ask yourself, “why?” In a memoir, we’re not looking to recount the things that just happened to you, the opportunities that fell out of the blue, and the crazy moments of serendipity. Those are fun stories but don’t have a lot of meat to them. It’s more interesting for a memoirist to talk about decisions you made–when you chose to zig instead of zag–and then remember why.
Memoirists Get Embarrassed Pretty Regularly
Indeed, your decisions in youth (or even just yesterday) might have been based on some faulty conclusions or just plain wrong information. That’s where memoir writing gets embarrassing. If you’re starting to get embarrassed… you’re doing it right! Don’t worry, this is just a first draft, and nobody will see it. Still, you’re embarrassed right there in your own head, aren’t you? That’s okay. It means you’re hitting paydirt.
All Memoirists Had Misspent Youths
Most likely, in life, you did some things for reasons that now seem pretty stupid. That’s good. That means you’re now smarter than you used to be. I hope so! Every experience you have becomes something you build upon, so we memoirists can all pretty much expect to get smarter as time goes by and then be embarrassed by our misspent youths. Rest assured, everyone is like that. Only memoirists are willing to admit it and let you see how the sausage was made, but the truth is, everyone has made major life decisions for less-than-stellar reasons. Yours might be funny. Or they might be instructive. Or hell, they might just be embarrassing, but good embarrassing, like a mosquito bite you love to scratch.
In any case, don’t worry about the punctuation, just get started writing about the choices you made and be really really really honest and soul searching when you ask yourself, “Why in the hell did I do that?” If you don’t know, figure it out. Most of us don’t know why we do the things we do when we do them, but later, we can figure out the sequence of thoughts that led to that conclusion. That sequence of thoughts is what we’re after. It shows other readers and would-be memoirists what your brain is like and, in a way, what all of our brains are like. More of these things are universal than you think! So check out my first video: “Commas can kiss my ass!”