Here’s a riddle for you: How is Easter Day like a memoir? There’s an egg hunt for both. On Easter Sunday, children go, baskets in hand, into fields, backyards, playgrounds and urban settings to search for colorful eggs hidden by, they’re typically told, the Easter Bunny. When you write a memoir, your field is your own mind as you explore to find the eggs—the memory nuggets of stories that will fill your basket—er, book.
Like the Easter eggs, each of your stories is different and colorful! Some are fancy, and some are plain. Some are dark, and some are light. Some are somber, and some are playful. You fill your basket with one egg at a time—write out each story as it appears in your mind’s eye. Notice the colors and design. Pick it up and see how heavy it is. Roll it and see where it goes. Observe how others interact with it.
This analogy helps you to see that, like a basket of distinct eggs, your memoir comprises stories that can stand alone but also complement each other when gathered together. You can understand that it doesn’t matter whether the basket is large or small—or whether your memoir is long or short. There isn’t a predetermined place to stop gathering eggs or writing chapters. But eventually either all the eggs will have been grabbed up, or the ones that are left will be too obscure to be found. You’ll have enough to tell the stories that fit best into your memoir, and you’ll be satisfied that each one is tucked into place and ready to be presented.