The Voice in Memoir
Be true to your voice in memoir
Restructuring the memoir is fine.  Works in progress go through many revisions.  The first draft is usually…ahem…vomit, anyway.  Okay, at least mine are.  And I need to remember not to compare my “drafts” with the finished, edited work of other writers. 
But as I redraft and restructure my memoir, I keep coming back to the same sticking point.  Every time I grab a new blank document and try to open the memoir pithily, enticingly, I lose my voice.  My memoir is not a philosophical tome.  It’s meant to offer advice and humor to parents contemplating lengthy endeavors, taking time away from the family.  How a parent can cope with this.  How they can succeed.  It’s meant to inspire and show others how to take courage and attempt something they may feel inadequate to accomplish.  And, of course, it is meant to entertain.
Humor helped me get through ten years of attending college part time while raising a family.  It simply has to be part of my memoir.
The thing about my writing style is my voice.  Whether I’m giving presentations or writing memoir, it’s the same.  It’s me.  If you’ve read any of my camping adventures on Camping with Kids you get the idea.  A few critique partners, professors, and writing facilitators noted that they enjoy my dry wit. 
In my memoir, I have the voice of innocence and the voice of understanding or experience.  Memoir needs these two voices.  The narrator must discover something from her journey through memory and share that information with the reader.  I must take the reader into the scenes of my struggles as a parent in college.  I can’t seem to move forward in my memoir any other way.  I can’t babble on in thought.  I’ve condensed scenes dramatically and left others bleeding on the floor and added much, in the first two chapters, by way of insight.  Perhaps this pass through revision will leave me feeling better prepared for beta readers. 

Oh, by the way, my short stories don’t share this humorous voice.  Not everyone, characters or people, can be me.  And this is probably a good thing.  Just ask my family.

12 thoughts on “The Voice in Memoir”

  1. Hi,
    Don't cut yourself short on your own insight into how your book should read. Cutting out the humour may alter what you want to get across to your reader. I am not a specialist in revision by no means. In fact, I am revising my book right now, but one thing that I've found out the hard way is that readers like well written books that draw them in.
    Good luck.
    Pat Garcia

  2. The best advice I've ever heard about voice said to relax and let it flow; it would develop with time and practice. But it certainly can be a tricky thing, depending on what you are writing. You are wise to step back and assess the big picture. Wish you all the best with your projects.

  3. I have just switched genres and I have found that my voice followed. No matter how I might want to write a certain way, I write like who I am and ultimately that's best. Let your voice shine through!

  4. Thank you so much for this advice, Pat. And welcome to my Adventures in Writing blog. The humor is me; it's how I look at the world and any stress I come up against. Again, thank you, Pat for visiting Adventures in Writing. Please stop by again.

  5. Thank you, Karen, for your insight into voice. I feel most at home in my voice when I show readers scenes from my college years. And humor splashes through. Thanks for visiting my Adventures in Writing blog and leaving a note. It is greatly appreciated.

  6. This is true, Theresa. And thank you for your kind words. No, revision is not easy, and it helps to have the story down to be able to adjust it. It's the global edits I'm not sure about yet. Thanks so much for visiting my Adventures in Writing blog and leaving a note. It is always great to hear from you.

  7. Hello and welcome, Terri. Thank you for stopping by my Adventures in Writing blog and leaving a note. It is greatly appreciated. Which genres do you write, Terri? I agree that it's best to write like who you are. I believe you are more genuine that way and that the reader will see this. Thanks again for stopping by Adventures in Writing.

  8. Good for you, Nas. It is always wonderful to learn new things. Of course, sometimes it may take a bit to organize what you have learned and apply it. Good luck with everything, and thanks so much for visiting my Adventures in Writing blog. It is greatly appreciated.


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