I almost didn’t post today. Almost. I got caught up in Superbowl festivities, which is silly because I don’t even like it anyway. I like the family and friends and food. But here I am anyways to talk about “The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized text for Writing and Life.” What the author Marion Roach Smith does here is take her popular six-week memoir-writing class and condense it into one book. Well, I’m sure reading this is cheaper than taking those credit hours, and much less time consuming. I think her audience is people who don’t write very much, beginner writers. These are the type of people I feel who take her class. To be blunt, and risky sounding haughty, I’ve heard much of her advice before. To me it wasn’t too helpful. I’d heard much of what she said before. For example, every page must drive the story forward. Every detail must mean something. No extraneous detail. Stories must be “about” something, some general theme, such as love, revenge, etc. People aren’t interested in reading memoirs about a collection of life’s many details. That’s not nearly enough. I mean, who cares? As Charles Champlain says, “Memory is shot through with universals.” It’s the memoirist’s job to carve out those universals from the mass of life and put them on display. One of the things I did take from the book was her advice to “be hospitable.” What does this mean? Be hospitable to the writing life. Make it easy for yourself. Sit down at a clean desk. Cut away distractions. Make yourself comfortable. Be hospitable.
Five books down, 47 to go.
Why this book? I got it as a Christmas present. Nuff said.