While attending a writing conference recently, something stood out to me: regardless of genre — mystery, romance, prescriptive/nonfiction, sci-fi or thriller — there’s an aspect of the writer’s personal story in every tale. Even more notable, is how all tales stem from opposition.
For instance, one woman I met was writing a prescriptive book on “healing versus being healed” based on her belief that you can still experience deep healing even if you aren’t cured of a disease. She was writing about a friend who was battling breast cancer, but who, she said, was so fixated on being cured (healed) that her health was actually declining. When I asked about her friend and what inspired the book idea, she leaned in and with a whisper, said, “Well, it’s really my story. But I don’t want to write about me.” Then, under her breath, added, “Although, I did beat stage four breast cancer.” I gasped. Then smiled. We talked more about what memoir is and what it isn’t.
While memoir is about you, it isn’t about you. That is to say, while memoir is about a major event, like surviving breast cancer, it isn’t necessarily about the disease; instead, it’s about how the experience of living with the cancer (and surviving it transforms you).
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