|Be true to your voice in memoir|
Restructuring the memoir is fine. Works in progress go through many revisions. The first draft is usually…ahem…vomit, anyway. Okay, at least mine are. And I need to remember not to compare my “drafts” with the finished, edited work of other writers.
But as I redraft and restructure my memoir, I keep coming back to the same sticking point. Every time I grab a new blank document and try to open the memoir pithily, enticingly, I lose my voice. My memoir is not a philosophical tome. It’s meant to offer advice and humor to parents contemplating lengthy endeavors, taking time away from the family. How a parent can cope with this. How they can succeed. It’s meant to inspire and show others how to take courage and attempt something they may feel inadequate to accomplish. And, of course, it is meant to entertain.
Humor helped me get through ten years of attending college part time while raising a family. It simply has to be part of my memoir.
The thing about my writing style is my voice. Whether I’m giving presentations or writing memoir, it’s the same. It’s me. If you’ve read any of my camping adventures on Camping with Kids you get the idea. A few critique partners, professors, and writing facilitators noted that they enjoy my dry wit.
In my memoir, I have the voice of innocence and the voice of understanding or experience. Memoir needs these two voices. The narrator must discover something from her journey through memory and share that information with the reader. I must take the reader into the scenes of my struggles as a parent in college. I can’t seem to move forward in my memoir any other way. I can’t babble on in thought. I’ve condensed scenes dramatically and left others bleeding on the floor and added much, in the first two chapters, by way of insight. Perhaps this pass through revision will leave me feeling better prepared for beta readers.
Oh, by the way, my short stories don’t share this humorous voice. Not everyone, characters or people, can be me. And this is probably a good thing. Just ask my family.