May 21, by Steve Alcorn Everyone has a story to tell. Check out this online, on-demand course from Udemy.
Share via Email Writing one's own personal history used to be called autobiography, Now, more app writing autobiography more, it is called memoir.
The two words are often used interchangeably and the boundary between the two forms is fuzzy, but there are differences. An autobiography is usually a record of accomplishment. All kinds of people, more or less famous, can write them or be helped to write them: Deeds, fame and an interesting life are not necessary ingredients of the memoir.
The memoir's ambition is to be interesting in itself, as a novel might be, about intimate, personal experience. It often aspires to be thought of as "literary", and for that reason borrows many of literature's tricks - the tricks of the novel, of fiction - because it wants to do more than record the past; it wants to re-create it.
If a memoir is to succeed on those terms, on the grounds that all lives are interesting if well-enough realised, the writing has to be good.
Here is VS Pritchett in Midnight Oil, the second volume of his memoirs though at the time of its publication init was still called autobiographywhen he's describing his time in s Paris as a young man trying to lose his virginity. He takes a young Danish woman to a cafe: Hester and I were nervous of each other.
I kept tapping the ash off my cigarette into an ash tray as we talked.
She took her hand away quickly. The marble-topped table between us seemed to become 6ft wider and to heave like the sea. It was fantastically delicious! It happened in Frank's flat above a shop in the Fulham Road one night after we had been out to dinner He was very tender about it.
I imagine we made love several times more in the coming weeks. Writing - short stories, novels, essays - was what he did for a living, and he brought all his accumulated skill to his memoirs, which are beautiful recreations of his life 50 and more years before, particular in their detail the ashtray, the tablebrilliant in the way they evoke scenes, episodes and characters.
Dialogue plays a large part: Pritchett shows - you are in the scene with him. Robinson tells - here are the events as she remembers them, and when she can't remember them too well "I imagine If Pritchett had been Robinson - admittedly a difficult notion - we would have been in the flat above the shop in Fulham for several pages and we would have had a much larger sense of why sex was fantastically delicious.
A much larger but not necessarily true sense, however. Who can remember with any exactness how things were with themselves and others 50, or 40 or 10 years ago? When Frank McCourt was writing Angela's Ashes, did he really remember all those conversations from his impoverished childhood in Limerick?
He claims so, because there was nothing much else to remember. And perhaps Pritchett kept very large diaries.
If not, surely there's more beauty than harm in persuasive invention, as long as the general truth of things isn't distorted? Pritchett's memoirs are among my favourite books, but my answer to the question is that I'm not sure.
Memoir-writing has moved on a bit since Pritchett's day; young people write them; young people who have been to creative-writing school. Creative-writing schools aren't staffed by examining magistrates.
In prose, believability rather than verifiable information is what properly concerns them. A few years ago at Granta, I got a good piece about a boyhood, in, let's say to spare any embarrassment, a Scottish fishing port.
In one vivid episode two trawlers sank in a storm, with the loss of both crews. The distress calls and radio messages between these and other boats were reproduced; there was a good and not at all sentimental scene when the boy sees a neighbour crying as he reads aloud the names of the lost men.
I asked the writer for a small revision.
When the piece came back, I noticed the names of the trawlers had changed. I wondered which were the right names. Slowly, it became clear that the writer had amalgamated two separate incidents - years apart - to serve the piece.
He said and I've heard the same words from publishers: Well, if the trawlers didn't sink as described, did the neighbour cry as described? We can suppose that Pritchett said to himself: She and I were colleagues 30 years ago on the Sunday Times, and I get a walk-on part on page Timeline allows students to create a graphical representation of an event or process by displaying items sequentially along a line.
Timelines can be organized by time of day, date, or event, and the tool allows users to create a label with short or long descriptive text. Adding an image for each label makes a timeline more visually appealing. Jan 01, · Read "The Autobiography of Jack the Ripper" by James Carnac with Rakuten Kobo.
This memoir was recently discovered and appears to have been written in the s by somone who asserts that he was Jack. This is a biographical book. Autobiography is addressed to Franklin's son William, at that time () Royal Governor of New Jersey.
While in England at the estate of the Bishop of St Asaph in Twyford, Franklin, now 65 years old, begins by saying that it may be agreeable to his son to know some of the incidents of his father's life; so with a week's uninterrupted leisure, he is beginning to.
An autobiography is a story about one's life written by the person. This person could be writing their story to learn more about their life, pass on their experiences, or engage others for.
A memoir is not an autobiography. It's a true story told as a novel, using techniques of novelization. The author is allowed to compress events, combine characters, change names, change the sequence of events, just as if he's writing a novel.
But it's got to be true. Homer Hickam. Somebody talked me into writing an autobiography about six or seven years ago. And I said I'd try. We talked into a tape recorder, and after a couple of months, I said, To hell with it.
I was so depressed. It was like saying, 'This is the end.' I was more interested in what the hell was coming the next day or the next week. Rupert Murdoch.