Product or process—which is your main reason for writing your memoir? Do you dearly want to produce a book that traces your life story for others to read or, rather, are you primarily using your memoir writing project as a therapeutic means of working through problems?
Writing in a recent New York Times Sunday Magazine, Steve Almond argues that the number of writing workshops, writing conferences and university-level creative writing programs has exploded to fill the void previously occupied by traditional “talk therapy” sessions with a counselor. The iconic image of the patient on the couch confiding in a therapist is a picture from the past, Almond maintains. Today, he says, troubled people take prescribed medication to sort of fix their brain chemistry and, while that may make them feel better, it’s not fulfilling.
Therefore what creative writers want, says Almond, who currently leads a writer’s workshop for people in their 50s and 60s, is “permission to articulate feelings that were somehow off limits within the fragile habitat of their families….[Creative writing] almost always involves a direct engagement with [the] inner life, as well as a demand for greater empathy and disclosure. These goals are fundamentally therapeutic.” To any of you who have landed at WriteMyMemoirs in an effort to claim your right to express yourself, sort through the difficult aspects of your life or quiet “the human heart in conflict with itself,” as Almond quotes William Faulkner, please feel very welcome here.