Memory In Its Finest Form

After reading Maia’s  “Whose Story?: The Ethics of Writing Memoir”, I couldn’t help but agree with her. The events that took place in her life were ultimately her story to tell. If it were me though, I would keep in mind and consider how it might affect the characters/ people I am including in my story. Maia strongly supports that because she is relying on her own memories, that she is the sole proprietor of her writing and is free to write whatever she wants as long as she is relying on her own memories.

When listening to Ariel Francisco and Jason Tougaw’s video on writing about other people, I noticed that Ariel also relied on his father’s memory to write his poetry. I find this interesting because sometimes people don’t want to be involved in someone else’s autobiographical writing, whereas others are more than willing to help.

Mary Karr’s “The Liar’s Club” begins with a great hook. She starts with “As soon as you start to leave things out—to shape a tale—you’re maneuvering the actual.” This to me seems important to recognize for any writer out there. By omitting certain parts, you aren’t exactly lying per se, but you’re not stating things as they are. By “maneuvering the actual”, you aren’t really writing an autobiography anymore, are you? Even if it’s not intentional, and you start to fabricate details here and there, then it can start becoming a work of fiction.

The final paragraph from Jason Tougaw’s “Memory and Memoir” is also striking, yet familiar to me and something that I have done myself with my own writing.

Memory is not so different from imagination, if you think about it. They commingle with just about every act of remembering or imagining. Every memoir is a remaking the past. Rather than avoid or work around that simple fact, I decided to play around with it.

Tougaw decides to combine memory with imagination, rather than try to separate them. That could be more of a hassle and even worsen the writing, so he doesn’t hesitate to play around with both. Instead of justifying one element, why not use both to create a perhaps stronger piece of writing?

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1 thought on “Memory In Its Finest Form

  1. You are touching on a fascinating point about memory and what happens with it. Though many people may not wish to lie when telling a recollection of their memories, there may be falsehoods that permeate. It is interesting that Ariel Francisco relied upon her father for a memory she perhaps doesn’t have all the facts on. It speaks to what you speak about with Karr’s work as Francisco wishes to get to the truth rather than “maneuver the actual”. The goal for these works is to represent memories and the factual as best as they can and I think you speak on that well. There is something interesting on how we recall memory and how that takes shape. Some may see it as the recalling of truth (or bridging the gap between reality and fiction of a given event.) The penultimate goal is to capture the essence of a memory and present that to others in the form that brings the best out of it.

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