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The Magic in Memoir -- by Kimberly Patton

Why has memoir taken a sudden resurgence and the seemingly forgotten genre is now flooding the bookshelves? What could make a person’s truth so compelling that readers would choose memoir over mystery or fantasy?

Coming from the Latin word for “memory,” memoir is a sneaky little genre that skips past its boring sisters “biography” or “autobiography” but doesn’t quite meet up with adventurous fiction. Memoir is truth according to one person and isn’t based on lengthy research.

Memoir, in fact, can cut quite deep.

It is the truth according to one person. One memory. Personal thoughts. Powerful emotions. 

Memoir is a beautiful genre, a profound revealing of the soul. The vulnerability of the author draws readers to peek into a window to the heart. Readers relish the opportunity to see how somebody else is figuring out how they fit into this world.

Curiosity in a fiction book sometimes looks like, “What happens next?” Readers turn pages quickly based on plot and action-packed scenes.

A memoir book could suck you into the action, but more than likely you will become highly invested in the character of the narrator. You may not question “What happens next?” as much as you say, “The writer’s voice is carrying me and something deeper compels me to keep reading.” Memoir is real life, and often very raw.

The author has spent hours pulling on threads from their past, sometimes their childhood. The unraveled stories spilled on the page can be breathtaking.

As I read, I am respecting the author’s time and effort to delve into their past and face it head-on. Digging deep is no small feat. The author has done real soul work and has invited me into the pain and victories of their past. 

If you are reading memoir, be prepared to enter the inner-workings of the author’s heart.  Memoirists are on a mission to untangle memories to make connections with who they were and who they have become today. You get to join their journey.

Are you bold enough to read it?

If you are writing memoir, be prepared to come face-to-face with your past and the memories that make you laugh and make you cry. Be ready to wrestle with those memories and don’t expect the journey to be too short.

Are you bold enough to write it?

Posted by Kimberly Patton 25 Jun 2018 at 03:14
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Responses to this blog

Libralady 29 Jun 2018 at 22:46  
Dear ms. Kimberly Patton:

Love the blog! I have finished my memoir and started yet another re-edit which brings to mind a line from an old Eastwood movie, THE GOOD, THE BAD and THE UGLY..."Play it again...this time with more feeling." The last five years have taken me face-to-face with my past. I've laughed out loud, alone in my room, and I've cried in a restaurant chocked full of memories.

My memoir is titled, I LAUGHED UNTIL I CRIED, The Memoir of an Adopted Child. It is the story of a child who was stolen and sold at the age of three. It is no easy task to reveal unspoken truths. One potential Agent's critique was "I felt it was a little rushed." Probably true, her words were responsible for re-write one. Funny how we tend to rush words when they place us in such a vulnerable position. Maybe we are driven to tell, but not so sure we want to be heard. Other responses have been, "no memoir" and "no inspirational." In any case, I have finished...or came to a stopping place. The journey has been long and hard.

My memoir had to be researched a bit; I met a brother whom I did not know existed for sixty plus years. That required travel, lots of paperwork, DNA tests, etc. Looking back, my entire life has been spent researching to some extent.

Kimberly, it should be no surprise that I am elated at your opening sentence re. the sudden resurgence of the genre and memoirs are flooding the bookshelves. I just wish someone would let agents in on the secret.

Thank you for your ability to SEE what goes in to the making of a memoir. It is truly made up of a person's heart and soul.

Bold enough to write it,
Vickie Faulkner Adkins
Sandree 2 Jul 2018 at 22:22  
Kimberly and Vickie,

My first fiction class, which I took last year was a memoir class. We wrote small snippets of memories based on the teacher’s prompts. I ended up fleshing these out and writing a memoir of my childhood titled, 31 Overhill, about growing up with an alcoholic father. I think it is the most real, raw and beautiful writing I have done so far in my recent attempts at fiction. I have been sharing it with family and friends but don’t intend to put it out there in the world. Writing it and sharing it with my extended family has been a wonderful experience.

Your adoption story intrigues me. My husband and I adopted two children from Korea and it had been quite a roller coaster these last 25 years, so I can imagine your story is powerful.

Thanks for the article, Kimberly
Libralady 7 Jul 2018 at 09:39  

I am new at all this and did not see your response until now. Your story, 31 Overhill, sounds like something I would love to read. It is just so difficult to get interested in fiction once you get hooked on nonfiction. I have been told that in some ways memoir is easier to write because you don't have to create the story. That part is probably true, but fiction doesn't pull out every fiber of your being like memoir does. And, if it does, you're probably a great fiction writer with your ability to become so invested. It is great that you can share your story with family and friends. I think it is emotionally healthy. No one says you have to share it with the unknown public, although I can see where you might be able to help some people. Alcoholism and dealing with the devastation it causes, still seems to be a very prevalent problem in families.

I just hope that something I say in my memoir can help someone else along the way. Once I get past Chap. 2, (Chap. 1 is online now for critiquing) the story is not all doom and gloom. There are actually some pretty funny moments. That is not to say that my circumstances have not had a major impact on my life. I guess it's all about how an individual chooses to react and respond. Doesn't everything come down to the choices we make?

Thank you so much for taking your time to respond. I hope you are able to follow my story on

Blessings to you.

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