Showing posts with label memoir. Show all posts
Showing posts with label memoir. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


"If you were to write an autobiography, you would have to spend a lot of time at the courthouse, looking up the date your great-grandfather was born, what year your father bought the house on Elm Street. The research for a memoir can be done in an easy chair. Close your eyes and try to recapture the moment you bought your first car, learned you were pregnant, met the President or wobble down the street on a two-wheeler."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Unauthorized Autobiography

But what if God wrote his autobiography? It would be a long book with no beginning and no end! Yet he has written a book about himself. Its purpose is to reveal himself to you so that you might have a relationship with him.
Philip Schroeder, a pastor at First Baptist Church Bulverde, San Antonio,
thinks of the Bible as an

I think Schroeder should compare the chapters to a collection of memoirs because each writer's voice has a unique style and presentation however, this is what he writes:

"Your maker designed you to know him. How do you get to know this God? By reading his word, not just to get to know a book better, but to get to know the author.
If you believe that God really did make you, then what could be more valuable than his words about himself and who you are in relationship to him?
'For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.' (Hebrews 4:12)
How can a mere book do all that? The Bible can do that because it is breathed by God. It is alive because the words are his."

Read more:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Some thoughts on writing memoir:
I recently read that memoir exploited a writer's self-pity but that's not necessarily a problem. When I read sadness and regret in memoir, I think may be beautiful if it has a literary quality. I don't consider emotions self-pity.  Sometimes a memoir doesn't read well because of the author's writing skill. It's not that memoir itself is suppose to be a certain way, it's that some writing shows its baby-steps. I look at my earlier writing (teen years) and some of it is so authentic while other parts seem superficial because of writing  inexperience.   Frequently, I write in Oasis Writing Link about my mother's murder. I've noticed that writing I do now about that experience has changed over time. Maybe some writing must be written many times over the years before it feels as if you (as the writer) finally got it right.

An insight about how one writer experiences the writing process:

...there came a day when I hit a problem I hadn’t faced and didn’t  understand—now I see it was dramatizing a particular event, bringing it  to life, when I had some memories but some gaps and too few images. I  had a little meltdown. I thought I couldn’t write the book...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Autobiography and Persona

Autobiography and Persona

Persona: The parts of our personality that are visibly manifested. (Carl Jung)
Reading about self and autobiography, it is likely that you will come across the idea of persona and authenticity. Persona can be thought of as the public self, the part that is visible because it is shared. If the self that is shared closely matches the self as it is experienced by the sharer (the autobiographer), then it tends toward being authentic. If the self that is shared through an autobiographer’s persona does not match the private experience, then it is inauthentic. Some could say it is false, however, there is some doubt about whether the authentic or core self exists.
The experience of real, as in “this is who I am”, changes over time and may seem real to the author at the time of writing. Additonaly, the author may decide that it is acceptable to shift the facts and compromise aspects of internal meaning, in order to communicate “better.” Still many memoirist realize that if “better” means that the writing is shaped in a consistant way,  a logical coherent presentation of a life, it’s likely that the story will be inauthentic. Most lives are  not consistant as people hold opposing ideas; which are ideas that conflict with each other in a non-unified self.
Thomas Larson, author of The Memoir and the Memoirist separates the meaning of persona by classifying autobiography and memoir in different categories of life-writing. “Autobiography is written by the public person who tells the birth-to-death story of her persona. By contrast, the memoir allows the authentic self to lift the mask and tell the story of how mask and self have been intertwined.”(129) Larson’s theoretical frame of reference is Jungian, and he believes that a core self exists and can be made visible through analysis and self-reflection, which may include life writing.  In his view, “The memoir’s aim is to beget the authentic self to come forward, to assume the mantle; expose the inauthentic,” and this can be done through the attempt at honest writing.
Jamaica Kincaid is a writer whose persona shifts, and her inconsistencies are part of the creative process of her shared life experience. She does not cultivate personality coherence, and resists being labeled and conveniently categorized. Would she be considered inauthentic by Larson? As long as Kincaid continually revises her identity, shifting and processing what feels real at the moment, it would have to be authentic. However, that does not mean that others who read her would notice (or want to notice) some of the inconsistencies. It is inconvenient to have to adapt the categories; feminist, African American, and Caribbean, to include someone with so many consistency-breaks in her persona. Kincaid does not want to police herself, in part, because she writes about power dynamics. And these encompass groups of experiences that are authentically true for many people.
Jana Evans Braziel, author of Caribbean Genesis, suggests that Kincaid is resisting a literal reading of her work by her conflicting statements about meaning and intention. She writes, “Kincaid’s project is undeniably about autobiography, but not one that can be unambiguously read, consumed, known mastered, and not necessarily her own, though autobiographical elements clearly enter into and find creative and imaginative representations in her writings.” (7)
Kincaid writes autobiographically, no doubt, but I don’t think that she intends to dramatically shift the truth for the sake of the narrative. Her writing comes from a creative truth that has a kind of emotional authenticity. Braziel quotes  Kincaid in My Brother, where she has a conversation with Devon about an incident that happened during her childhood. (Kincaid had written that her mother tried to abort her son.) In the quote, Braziel leaves out the part where Kincaid admits that both she and her brother know that she is lying about her work being fiction. She says that they decide not to talk about what is true. I think it’s pretty clear that she is admitting that the child who survived an abortion attempt was her brother.
People are authentic in many ways, and though it may seem counter-intuitive, one way that the persona is authentic is by showing inconsistencies.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

American Literature Defines Autobiography and Memoir

Creative Nonfiction: Memoir and Autobiography
"Many writers hunger for open, less canonical genres as vehicles for their postmodern visions. The rise of global, multiethnic, and women's literature -- works in which writers reflect on experiences shaped by culture, color, and gender -- has endowed autobiography and memoir with special allure. While the boundaries of the terms are debated, a memoir is typically shorter or more limited in scope, while an autobiography makes some attempt at a comprehensive overview of the writer's life.
Postmodern fragmentation has rendered problematic for many writers the idea of a finished self that can be articulated successfully in one sweep. Many turn to the memoir in their struggles to ground an authentic self. What constitutes authenticity, and to what extent the writer is allowed to embroider upon his or her memories of experience in works of nonfiction, are hotly contested subjects of writers' conferences."
From "Contemporary American Literature" Chapter 10 posted December 2006 (n.p.)

AP Image
Jamaica Kincaid's writing is referred to as autobiographical work.
After an introduction about women writers from the English speaking Caribbean Jamaica Kincaid is briefly mentioned:
"Rhys's work opened the way for the angrier voice of Jamaica Kincaid (1949- ), from Antigua, whose unsparing autobiographical works include the novels Annie John (1985), Lucy (1990), and The Autobiography of My Mother (1996)." (n.p.)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Memoir on the Influence of Indians in Trinidad and Tobago

Zobi Fredrick, who migrated first to London and then to New Jersey and now lives in Clearwater, explains the influence of Indian culture on the politics, religion and everyday life in Uprooted: From Calcutta to Trinidad, published by iUniverse, a self-publishing company.

(excerpt from South Florida Times)