If you’ve been reading memoirs, you’ll notice that each experience is unique, whether the memoir is about childhood, death, surviving divorce, or even surviving college. Through specific details, the memoirist achieves universality.
Of course universality is not enough. I need to show my hard-won epiphanies through self-reflection. This is the difficult part for me. I’m a scene writer. I need action. I enjoy the comic moments of raising a family in all their hilarious detail.
“You need more internal dialogue here, Victoria,” my critique partner told me.
And of course she was correct. But to look inside myself?
Perhaps I had been too busy raising that family of mine and hammering away at my bachelor’s degree to pause and reflect about how I felt when my children constantly interrupted my studying time or when I was attempting to make study tapes for various classes.
I need to fill my memoir with self-made maxims and self-wisdom learned, not so much the subject matter learned. My college memoir is a candid story of self-improvement through the college education of a mother. My children’s presence punctuates my college experience.
I remained their primary care-giver and continued to teach them from my newfound knowledge base.
Are these maxims easy to find? No. In fact, I find myself spending whole days trying to figure out “how I felt” or “what I learned” at a particular time during my college journey. It gets to the point where I need to convince myself that it’s good enough for the first revision and then move on.
How do you get past a sticking point in your manuscripts? Please offer some tips.