You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it. – Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
I’ve long believed we are at our best when allowing ourselves time to sit with another in their story and to share our own. When we walk around a bit in someone else’s memories and see what life looks like from eyes not our own, we grow in the ability to comprehend another’s suffering and triumphs, struggles and celebrations.
We may find ourselves enthralled with their humanity or lack thereof, but we’ll never be able to dismiss them outright again. Sitting in someone’s skin, indeed walking around in it, will always open our eyes a bit more to the world around us.
It’s why I love memoir so much. It’s also why I believe memoir writing, at least for the purpose of finding what your story is really saying, is well worth the time and energy it takes to dig it all up and get it down on paper.
For a writer, it is the practice of learning to see and capture in small bites the story of a life.
The stories that make you who you are will change with time and perspective , certainly the memoir I would’ve written at 21 would be much different from the memoirs I write now. You may have a thousand memoirs writing themselves with each day you live. But you are not tasked with choosing just one.
The stories that make up your life always belong to you. You’ll just look at them with different eyes as the years go by. And sometimes you’ll see more in the story and sometimes you’ll see less.
But you’re learning to look with open eyes, and that is the best lesson a writer learns. To take in the world around you and dig into the world within you and put it to paper so others see too.
Memoir helps catch and pin down things past and present. It tells the story of you.
We’re doing snapshots this week. Just a preview, really, of how you saw for one moment of time. Feeling stuck? Tweet me or leave a comment and I’ll shoot you a prompt. Join us?
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