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I loved reading the exchanges when I got back from visiting grandchildren this past weekend. For me, memoir is the account of how we got here from there-- how we got to be the people we are. There are no rules about structure, and it is up to the writer to decide where "here" is and where "there" was. A memoir can be the account of an entire life, or the memory of a single summer. A writer named Ilene Beckerman wrote about the clothes she was wearing at unforgettable moments in her life. Her extraordinary little book is called "Love, Loss, and What I Wore." Memoir can be pure story, like "The Glass Castle", or it can be more reflective, like anything by Patricia Hampl ("A Romantic Education" and "The Florist's Daughter" come to mind.) Memoir can be a book of poems, it can be essays that reveal a life, it can be stories strung together that reveal a person changing, and that add up to some kind of realization of how a person has evolved. I believe somebody has written a memoir that is composed entirely of lists.
The easy thing is that there are no blueprints, the hard thing is that there are no blueprints. Honesty is the only hard and fast rule. If you have moments your mind goes back to again and again, start there and then keep going. Don't worry about where you're going or what the finished form will look like. Don't worry about making anything into a "book." Just write. One of the benefits of writing memoir is what we learn about ourselves along the way. Tackle the hard stuff, as many of you have. The connections we make are a large part of the reason to do this difficult thing--both the insights into our own lives and the connections we make with others.
Welcome to all the new members, this is very exciting.