10 Reasons Not to Write a Memoir
It’s the fifth Thursday of the month — time to update you on the writing of my second book. Sort of.
I made a New Year’s resolution in 2022 to complete a first draft of my memoir, something that I’ve been trying to accomplish for … for longer than I care to admit. Even though the public posting of a New Year’s resolution in 2018 helped me to write my first book, it’s not helping me this time. It’s now almost April of 2023 and I still don’t have a first draft. I barely have what could be generously called a very, very, very rough draft.
First of all, the process of going over my past writings in order to have a clear and truthful idea of how my faith journey has unfurled is going to take a lot longer than I thought it would. Second of all, well … I’ve discovered many reasons why, perhaps, I shouldn’t write a memoir at all. Here are the top 10 reasons, in “Late Night with David Letterman” style:
#10. Real life does not unfold in a neat and tidy story arc.
#9. I’m not convinced that the heroine will triumph in the end.
#8. I don’t want the people I know to say, “That’s not how it happened.”
#7. I don’t want the people I know to say, “Why did you write that about me?”
#6. I don’t want the people I know to say, “Why didn’t you write about me?”
#5. The process of writing a whole book about me is making me sick of me — and I love me!
#4. The part of my life story that might possibly be the most beneficial to others is the most private part of my life that I don’t really want to share.
#3. I can’t write the story of my life because I’m too busy living it!
#2. Time is precious and there are other “inspiring” writings that I could be completing instead.
And the #1 reason why I should not write a memoir is…
Because I don’t want to.
Comments are appreciated! Just remember that I am absolutely not fishing for encouragement or any kind of compliments. I’m trying to take a lighthearted approach to the difficulties that I’m having in writing my memoir, difficulties that sometimes make me want to bash my head into a brick wall. My dad often says that you should make a list of pros and cons before you make a big decision. So yes, Dad, the top 10 reasons why I should write a memoir will be coming soon…ish. That list is going to be much more difficult to make, because I will have to personally mean every reason.
Enough about me. Seriously. I now return you to find more beneficial Lenten readings.
Have a Blessed Holy Week!
© 2023 Christina Chase
Feature Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash
Christina Chase View All
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.
If there’s anything I learned in life, it’s not to agonize too much about what you can/cannot accomplish. Your ten reasons why not to sound good enough. That said, I’d be interested to read about the ten reasons you should. You probably considered this already—putting this in prayer may give you an answer. 😊
A blessed Holy Week to you too and Happy Easter!
I know I need to pray about it — your comment has made me think that maybe I need to say a novena! 🙂 We will see what happens and which list will win. May you also have a blessed Holy Week and Easter!
Hi Christina: I will pray for you too – that you get an answer 😊.
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The decision you make will be truly yours and I believe it should make you and you alone happy. Let your happiness lead the way and don’t worry about the rest of us. I for one am so pleased with what you share.
Have a wonderful Easter Season.
Thank you very much! May you have a Blessed Holy Week and an Easter Season filled with joy,
I totally support you either way. It isn’t easy, and I loved your list because it was hilarious. And true. My novel has turned into 3 and I can’t separate it because I’m too attached . I’ve been at it for the same length of time because we made that pact together. Either way, whether we write a novel or a memoir, or a story, or a letter…we are perfectly imperfect and that’s why we are awesome. And I love you cousin.
Sounds like we need to push each other — I mean support each other even more. 🙂 I owe you many letters and in one of them I am going to ask you, “What’s wrong with a trilogy?”
I love you, Jacqui!
My Dear Friend
I personally expect your book about you should be all about me and barring that then I am looking forward to hearing any and all secrets don’t worry shhhh I will never tell smiley face with chubby cheeks and wrinkles
LOL — truly! Thank you for the laugh, it was just what I needed! And I agree that there should totally be a book all about you 🙂 and YOU need to write it. A thousand lifetimes lived in just one. Would people even believe it? Hee hee
With much love to one of my favorite people,
I understand your problems in writing a memoir – but I think you are looking at your life from the wrong angle: a ‘this world’ perspective. There is only one way for a Christian to write a memoir and that is: to address it to God alone – as St Augustine did in his Confessions. If you do that, all your other objections will fade away. In effect, you will be writing a love letter to God; it will include all your mistakes, all your longings, all your hopes, all your griefs – everything. It is not what other people may think that matters. It is only what God thinks of your writing that matters. So write for Him as if you and he were the only two people in the entire universe – and the words will flow. After all, you are writing to a beloved friend, companion, Saviour. God bless you in this endeavour – Francis Phillips
Thank you for this! I read it on the eighth day of a novena for the discernment of the book, so I’ve been giving it extra consideration.
Originally, I thought about writing a memoir in St. Augustine’s Confessions style, but then I felt presumptuous. Who am I to imitate such a great Saint? Do you know of any other memoirs written in this way? After thinking and praying about it for a while, though, I have decided to write to God about my conversion, as you suggested. I’m going to start right in the middle, in the heart of the matter, and see what happens. As I’m writing, I will not think about publication at all. Just like you said: a conversation between me and my Lord. So thank you very much!
I pray for your daughter, Cecelia, every Friday. Blessings to you and your family!
I don’t know of other memoirs in this genre, apart from the Confessions. I can also understand that St Augustine seems a formidable act to follow. If one attempts to write poetry, Shakespeare (who was born and who died today) is also an extremely hard act to follow! However, your life is unique, your voice is unique, your experiences are unique – and you matter to God just as much as any great writer – whether he be a theologian, a poet or whoever. So I am glad you are going to go ahead. In the end, publication is secondary; if it happens, it happens. What matters is your own intimate colloquy with God – indeed, a form of prayer. And I am so grateful for your prayers for me dear daughter, Cecilia. She now lives independently, in a small house with full support, along with five other people, but she comes home at weekends, so always comes to Mass with me on Sundays. She is here with me now, having her tea by the fire and looking at her favourite books! God bless you – and your whole family. Francis
Yup, my sister shares a birthday with William Shakespeare! I love how you write that I (and therefore each and every one of us) “matter to God as much as any great writer, whether he be a theologian, a poet or whoever.” This is so important for me (and all of us) to remember — thank you!
PS. I love the image of Cecilia by the fire with books and tea 🙂
Yes indeed! I have to remind myself of it too…
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