Saturday, August 8, 2009

To publish or not to publish

At a convivial gathering of fellow readers and writers last week, talk turned to whether or not is was necessary to publish one's memoir. Most of us agreed that writing memoir was an exercise in ridding our lives of the demons that have haunted us since childhood. Whatever the ailment, the simple act of writing it down helped us to understand and to deal with the bad memories or the hurt childhood. What do you do with it then? Do you try to publish it? What is the point?

Since most of my reading of late has been memoir, I feel eternally grateful for the writers out there who tell thier story for all to read. It is comforting to know stories that resonate with my own, but it is even more important that memoirists feed me with stories that have no bearing on my life. In order to understand humanity in all it's forms, I need to understand all stories from all perspectives.

I just finished a particularly compelling life story. Karen Armstrong, the famed writer of the History of God, has penned a riveting account of the depression that enveloped her after she had left the convent in which she was a sister for 7 years. It is not simply the story of a women who is regaining her foothold in a fast changing world, but it is the story of paradise lost and then paradise found again. Sometimes you have to loose your religion in order to get it back.

I loved her human frailty and her discovery of what was most important to her in early days again as an adult. I loved that she stumbled a lot before she found her way. It should give any woman hope and courage to face what is out there. Reading about finally being diagnosed with epilepsy after doctors kept telling her she was tired or crazy was especially enlightening for me given my son's struggles with epilepsy. Put this on your list of must read memoirs.

When your memoir is finished where will it end up? In your bedside drawer? In the trash? Or with a lovely cover for sale on Amazon? I hope on Amazon. All stories need to be told.


Steph said...

Thanks for sharing this book with me. I am enjoying it. It is a world I have so little insight into (the Catholic/nun thing). Fascinating, and I like her honesty.

Hootie said...

I think reading all the memoirs has made you an even more compassionate person. Your a great reviewer because you DO look at all perspectives.

I love reading your comments and hearing your thoughts on books. :)