Memoir Writing as a Tool for Self Exploration and Understanding

In the 1970s I took some writing classes at both UCLA and at the Women’s Building on North Spring Street.

One thing people talked a lot about was journaling, the practice of keeping a journal.

Anais Nin was one popular example and Christopher Isherwood another, of people who kept journals while living in interesting times.  Emma Goldman’s Living my Life, is another.

Memoir and oral histories have become a way of documenting the people’s history.  The small stories that are so often overshadowed by the major events of the time.

But journaling and writing a memoir can also be a path to understanding your own past and your role in history.

As I have been writing my memoir I have had to remember not only what I did but what my motivations were for some things that wouldn’t make much sense otherwise.

I’ve found myself to be inclined to be more forgiving of the foibles and shortcomings of others.

I’ve rediscovered ideals I once held, values I had lost touch with.

Now that I am old perhaps I don’t care quite as much about my image and what others think of me.

Maybe I have grown courageous again like I was when I was young and idealistic.

Perhaps the last thirty years of neo-con/neo-lib bullshit has finally caused me to say enough.

Perhaps the self-exploration required to write a good, honest and true memoir, in spite of all the short comings of subjectivity that are inherent to the structure requires one to be true and honest with themselves.

I’ve always found our stories far more meaningful than anything the so call academics and professionals have ever written about us.

One Response to “Memoir Writing as a Tool for Self Exploration and Understanding”

  1. Jessica Sideways Says:

    Agreed. I’ve contemplated writing my own memoir but I figure I’ll do that after I leave residency.


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