Why You Can and Should Write Your Memoir

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Thanks for the Memories…

Why You Can and Should Write a Memoir

According to a poll, about 95% of us feel we have a story to tell but less than 3% ever commit that story to paper.

Some of the best stories are grounded in experience and writing memoir is a valuable tool to understand yourself and your personal history better. There is no more effective means to make sense of an experience than to labor over the language to describe that same experience appropriately for others.

Your story does not have to be unique. Your family need not be dysfunctional or notorious and you do not have to be stricken with a terrible disease.

You don’t even have to publish.

Frank McCourt, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Angela’s Ashes, describes a conversation with a high school student in Teacher Man.

“Mr. McCourt, you’re lucky. You had that miserable childhood, so you have something to write about. What are we gonna write about? All we do is get born, go to school, go on vacation, go to college, fall in love or something, graduate and go into some kind of profession, get married, have the two point three kids you’re always talking about, send the kids to school, get divorced like fifty percent of the population, get fat, get the first heart attack, retire, die.”

“Jonathan,” McCourt responds, “that is the most miserable scenario of American life I’ve heard in a high school classroom. But you’ve supplied the ingredients for the great American novel. You’ve encapsulated the novels of Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, F. Scott Fitzgerald.”

All of us lead lives that are routine, even tedious. But perspective is everything. There is tremendous inspiration and wisdom to be gleaned from how other people have approached the universal phases of life. You have only to peruse the aisles at Barnes & Noble or Page One. We love to know how other people live and how they relate to their experiences because it helps us to understand ourselves with greater clarity. Maybe it makes us feel like we don’t have it so bad or it makes us wish we had it better.

Memoir allows us to be socially appropriate voyeurs. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and for subsequent generations, your cast-off memories are precious. These experiences, though they’re mundane for the author, form the basis of who we are and where we come from.

Are you an experienced writer… or simply one of the 95% of us with a story to tell?

Whatever your story, experience level or genre, from memoir to fiction, non-fiction and poetry, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of New Mexico has a class with your name written all over it.

OLLI has several upcoming classes focused on helping members reach their writing goals, or simply get started:



OLLI was established in 2007 with the goal of offering university-level courses and developing community among adult learners age fifty and over.

Membership is $20 annually and includes access to Osher course offerings, special member’s events and a growing list of benefits on and off-campus.
Register now for 2017 and receive an extra two months of OLLI plus $20 off your first OLLI Class.
To register as an Osher Member, please contact UNM Continuing Education registration at 277-0077, Option One.

Why OLLI? Because curiosity has no age limit.

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