The Gifts of Memoir by Christine Hale

In A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice: A Memoir in Four Meditations, I've written about myself but not for myself.

I talk about a childhood in southern Appalachia that included abuse and neglect as well plenty of freedom to read and explore the natural world. I tell the stranger-than-fiction true story of together-tattoos with my teen children. And I relive the odd pleasures and striking solitudes of a series of spiritual retreats. I piece all of this together like a crazy quilt of vivid colors to suggest some truths about the human condition.

It's true that in the book's earliest draft, I wrote to try to explain myself to myself. I wrote down what shocked and hurt and amazed me about my life to that point. I wrote the questions I couldn't answer--except by speculation--about people I'd lost, found, given up on or given another chance. The process was cathartic--it made me feel better able to accept what I couldn't change. But the writing was also instructive. Putting it all down on paper helped me connect the dots, in ways I'd never imagined possible, between things I'd done at widely different points in my life, or between things I'd done and my mother had done, for instance. And, another gift of memoir: the process of trying to remember made me remember more and more. I reclaimed and relived some very sweet memories.

So, I was enjoying writing the book and learning about myself, but I had to stop and ask why I was writing a book about my life. I mean, who wants to read about me?

That question comes up nearly every time I mentor a creative writer who wants to write a memoir. Self-doubt, even a touch of shame, about presuming to share one's own "ordinary" live story. But if you can learn from writing about your life, I tell them, why wouldn't readers learn from what you've learned?

It took me years to feel comfortable saying that. But I am confident of it now. Readers of my memoir tell me that they idetnify with the struggles and the triumphs in the book, that they are reminded of their own sweetest memories, that they reel reconnected with people they've lost, or that they have new insight into someone who was a powerful and painful mystery in their life. Some have said, simply, "It helped me."

During the years I worked on my book, I came to realize that I wanted it to become a gift, humbly offered. I want readers to take away a feeling that they are not alone in their doubts, fears, confusion, strivings, and hopes. That these feeling are the essence of being human. I want readers to get from the book their own personal version of what I got from writing it--clarity and release.

For more information, visit the author's website and Amazon.
Be sure to check out all of the other posts that are a part of this tour!

This entry was posted on Friday, August 26, 2016 and is filed under ,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

One Response to “The Gifts of Memoir by Christine Hale”

Powered by Blogger.