One of the challenges in memoir writing is capturing how we change through time. Who you, as your narrator, were 30 years ago is not who you are today. Even your cells have changed. We have to wonder who the “I” is who’s telling our story. Each person is a kaleidoscope of “I”, and we need to keep track as we write of which “I” is telling the story, and which “I” we’re writing about in the past–the kid who was seven, the teenaged self, or the young adult persona.
As a memoir writer and teacher for many years, I see my students searching not only for the voice of the narrator who tells the story, but who they were at different ages. In a memoir, we inevitably end up reflecting on identity, on who we think we are, or were, and how that person, or that shifting sense of who you were, experienced the various moments you choose to show in your memoir. I love the term that Sue William Silverman uses for the varying voices in memoir–“The Voice of Innocence and the Voice of Experience.” The Voice of Experience is you now, which I call the “now” narrator. You are the writer in the now, you understand how the puzzle pieces of the past and the various identities of self you have had throughout your life fit together. By the way, Sue will be our guest at the May 9 Memoir Telesummit this year!
The voice of Innocence is your younger self, whether it’s you as a child, or you as a teen or young adult. Often you are dropping into scenes from that past as you present the POV of yourself from that earlier age. Your tone, voice, language and vocabulary will be different as that younger version of yourself. Mark Matousek, memoir writer and teacher, says, “None of us has only one voice; we all house many characters who evolve, appear, and disappear over time. Just as there is no solid self, there is no solid, monolithic story.”
Free Roundtable Discussion on the Self in Memoir At the National Association of Memoir Writers today, February 6.
Topic: Who Am I Now? The Changing Self in Memoir
Expert: Mark Matousek
This week’s free Roundtable Discussion at the National Association of Memoir Writers features Mark Matousek and me in a discussion about the shifting psyche in memoir and how to think about and manage the lens through which you present yourself at different parts of your story. Of course, as we sort through our past and choose what to write, we are vulnerable with who we are/were, what we remember. We have to choose the themes and how much to reveal. We can’t hide behind the fictional wall, as I call it. We’ll examine the paradox of self, memory, and imagination in this conversation, as imagination is also important to memoirists–not in the sense of making up things, but in bringing forward into our consciousness the memories and moments that help to define us, that shaped us into who we are now.
Please join us
Date: February 6, 2014
Time: 4 PM PST 5 PM MST 6 PM CST 7 PM EST
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