Seems like the world is full of writers, or maybe I’ve just become accomplished at seeking out my own kind. Seems like everyone is writing a novel or performing poetry and I’m just schlepping away at my day job. A lot of you who read this are probably doing a little mental mind scratching right now. You’re young and your life is stretched out before you in myriad years and possibilities. I’ll put it out there. I’m fifty-one. By the time you’re me you’ll be … Guess what. The truth is, because there are so many of us and it’s so easy to become “published” these days, it’s even harder to become a professional writer and simply write for a living. You may have to schlep through multiple day jobs before you hit that stride.
Truthier truth is: while you should always be writing as though you are seeking publication, you should be writing primarily because you love to do it.
And that’s where I’m going with this intro. Consider other options in your writing. Whatever your chosen vibe is, break from it once in a while and write something different.
Today, this fifty-one-year-old mid-level corporate controller with six or seven different novels sitting on her hard drive alongside a bazillion poems is not only giving advice but taking it. I’m starting on a memoir. I used to think memoirs were vehicles for the wealthy, the notorious and people who had lost their edges in their chosen field of entertainment, but the more I research, the more I appreciate the genre. Unlike a journal, a memoir is specific. It is a story or collections of stories with a purpose. Should you choose to write a memoir you will need a purpose, just like any other protagonist. Your vignettes will move the reader through your life and that reader will expect growth, just like any other fictional character you create. You may find that you’re not even the center of your own memoir. And of course, the art of storytelling is a must with memoir writing. If people in your story are still breathing on this earth, special care must be taken that you don’t vilify, slander or embarrass an innocent (or even not so innocent) bystander.
I get it. I’m fifty-one so I have enough life experience to put it together in some type of story, but if you’re twenty-something or thirty-something and you’re not already rich and famous, who is going to read? Well, you never know do you, until you write it. Start now, while you’re young and fresh. Capture those specific moments now and when you’re ready to share in a voluminous volume, you’ll have a treasure from which to choose. You don’t have to be famous, famous adjacent, or gut-wrenchingly tragic. You just have to be a you who has done a little growing over the years.
Even if the thought of your life story doesn’t appeal to you, consider this: your words may outlive you.
Your fiction and your nonfiction will become who you are to those who never get the chance to meet you face to face. The things you commit to paper now are precious. Leave a legacy. Consider all your writing options and make your body of writing rich.
"When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground." -Amadou Hampâté Bâ .