Friday, October 21, 2011

It's Personal

I was visiting with a writing friend recently who is writing memoir. She let her boyfriend read an excerpt of her work, and his response was, "it's kind of... personal, isn't it?"

That's what (personal) memoir is. Not all memoir is personal. Sometimes an author writes memoir about someone else's life, or an event in someone else's life. But when the author is writing about her own life, it's personal.

So is the personal essay.

No one says this better than Jennifer Bowen Hicks, in her guest post over at Brevity:

"Transparency of Thought in the Essay."

A brief excerpt:

"When a writer voices the agitations of her will through words, I feel my own blood moving inside my veins, transfused and transformed by the essay’s greatest potential gift: full access to another human’s thinking, feeling, core—that place where our truest feelings and agitations live. In writing, is there other point?"

It's not just that we like confessional writing, although that can be a part of it. It's that we crave intimacy with other human beings, and what could be more intimate than knowing their thoughts, their feelings, their soul?


Allegra2006 said...

I like it, I like it! It brings us so much closer to another human being to learn some of there personal thoughts and daydreams. We learn that we're not alone.

Allegra2006 said...

'scuse. I mean "some of their personal thoughts..."

dubuas said...

Thanks for posting, Susan! The essay is wonderful, and Jennifer is one of my VCFA pals. We were in the same workshop first semester.

Ann Best said...

After publishing my first memoir and now ghost writing one with my friend about her very disabled son, I know that memoir is where I have always been heading with my writing. It is the personal that moves me the most. I love the "true" story. I get bored with much fiction. It now has to have that very personal tone if I'm going to spend precious time reading it.

Transparency of thought. Transparency of emotion. Thanks for an interesting and thought provoking post.
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets