When I attended the free Gotham Writers’ Workshop almost two weeks ago, I sat next to a woman who caught my attention when she asked about writing a memoir for children. Juliette Borda, 42, an illustrator and Brooklyn resident, recently answered some questions for me about her views on memoir:
1. Define memoir.
One’s recounting of what they consider to be pivotal or transformative events in their lives; the story of the struggles that built their character. It’s the writer’s job to turn the random series of events in their life into a story and to find meaning in the events.
March 21, 2010
Main Entry: mem·oir
Pronunciation: \’mem-ˌwär, -ˌwȯr\
Etymology: Middle French memoire, from memoire memory, from Latin memoria
1 : an official note or report : MEMORANDUM
2 a : a narrative composed from personal experience b: AUTOBIOGRAPHY —usually used in plural c : BIOGRAPHY
3 a : an account of something noteworthy : REPORT b plural : the record of the proceedings of a learned society
Out of Merriam-Webster’s definition of memoir, it is the 2a definition which most closely matches my own thoughts on the genre. I consider a memoir a way for a person to share a private memory with the world. Memoirs are often accounts of “something noteworthy;” however, I am most intrigued by memoirs of seemingly typical people who lead seemingly typical lives.