How Does One Write About One’s Life?
Whenever I meet two people in love, I typically ask them: How did you meet? It’s incredible the many different ways there are to meet a future significant other. For instance, my darling and I met outside just before a dramatic lightning storm. Who would have guessed? But this isn’t unusual as all of the stories I have heard are in their own ways unique and illuminating.
Innovative Memoirs. We have stories to tell about our lives—leaving home for the first time, the best birthday present ever, a pilgrimage. The question is do we keep these experiences close to our hearts and relay them haphazardly to only those in our midsts—rendering them forever as a fleeting story once heard, details forgotten. Or do we capture these important memories on paper to give them a permanence and stature so that by purpose or chance, others can be enlightened by them?
A written memoir is a soulful piece of art: a place where one carefully curates those moments most precious. I think we’d all agree that writing down one’s stories is invaluable. The only stumbling block? You have to sit down and write.
For the time-crunched amongst us, tools have popped up to make writing memoirs easier. You can find various apps and services that will send you a periodic email or text with a question such as “Who was your best friend growing up?” You only have to type up or dictate the answer in a reply, and send it back to the service. There is little commitment and no forethought required. After a year or so of such back and forths, the service will organize your responses in book form and send you a hardcopy of your ‘memoir.’ Is this really the best way to preserve your memories?
I believe we can be more creative with memorializing our treasured experiences. We can take control of how our life is documented and have fun doing so. For instance, we can dramatize our lives in the form of a novel, or give a chronological presentation of the important events in our lives. We can create collections of letters written to a future generation. We can create collections of short stories or quotes or fun facts. We can tell our stories in illustrations with little bubble captions of narrative.
One bold author gives us a beautiful example of a memoir expressed in graphic novel format. Cartoonist Sophia Glock tells the story of her childhood in Passport (published by Little, Brown Ink, 2021) which describes the author’s upbringing as a child of two American spies living in foreign countries. Panel by panel, illustration by illustration, we learn of the difficulties and conflicts of her childhood lived in the shadows. Using a gentle three-color palette, the author draws the reader in with artistry and just the right amount of narrative, giving us a glimpse of her unique life experiences. It is a beautiful example of innovative memoir.
I challenge you, dear reader, to think about how you, too, can capture your memories on paper and put them into innovative physical form.
“…I think comics were perfect for a memoir about adolescence because everything when we’re adolescents is visceral and immediate. So I felt it was a good match.” (Sophia Glock, NPR interview, 2021)
Our Meripoint kitty enjoys Passport.