Welcome to Memoir Pool.
I am your host, Tamim Ansary.
What will you find here?
- Real-life stories told with verve.
- Ruminations on the art of memoir.
- Conversation about published (and sometimes unpublished) memoirs.
What I have in mind is …
…an online version of sitting around a campfire with a bunch of friends sharing stories–the caveat being that: everyone around the fire is a storyteller. Wouldn’t that be cool?
What Memoir Is
Memoir is the intersection between “life” and “story”. When you write one, you’re asserting that you’ve spotted a story embedded in the random river of real-life events. You reveal it by drawing on the same techniques novelists use: powerful language, vivid dialog, irony, suspenseful plotting, the works. In short, when you write a memoir, you’re doing what novelists and short story writers do: (trying to) create a work of art.
What Memoir Isn’t
- Memoir isn’t autobiography. It doesn’t necessarily tell the story of one-whole-life. It could only tell the story of one whole day. Or it could span years but tell only what happened in cars you’ve owned.
- Memoir is not “oral history”–mere data that future scholars can use to write the history of our times. Memoir has to be a compelling read.
- Memoir is not therapy. Writing it might be therapeutic, but that’s only because turning chaos into meaning is good for the soul.
- Memoir is not fiction. You can’t just make stuff up. Don’t start writing unless you have a good story to tell; and if you do, you don’t have to add one to the facts.
Finally, some of you may be wondering what two cats hugging each other has to do with a site about writing memoir. Well, as I understand it, from my many visits to Youtube, two cats hugging is always relevant.
Who Am I?
Good question. I’ve been asking myself that for years. The partial answer, the part that’s relevant here: I am a writer with a growing interest in memoir as a literary form. I’ve produced three of these works myself; I’ve organized memoir-writing projects around specific themes–for example, the immigrant experience of second-generation Afghan-Americans; I’ve taught memoir-writing workshops in various venues from Puerto Vallarta to Portland, Oregon; and I teach several ongoing memoir-writing workshops . I’m launching this blog in hopes of drawing you into the storytelling and into the larger conversation about life, the world, and the universe.