It went something like this…but this is almost certainly not precisely what I read…”You are never too young, nor too old, to begin to write your memoir. But you will never be old enough to finish the last one.

I don’t know who expressed that sentiment, but it has stuck with me for years and years.  But, of course, I’ve never started to write my first one, nor will most of us.   On first blush, there’s just something so audacious, so vain, so self-important about writing a memoir. But if you consider, carefully, what a memoir is, none of those attributes apply.  A memoir is an amalgam of stories and essays, sometimes emphasized through personal memories, that strive to deliver a specific point.  Any memoir has a theme, a core message delivered by telling about personal experiences during a specific time period.

In some ways, a memoir is like a novel but the characters and situations and circumstances are real, though their names may have been changed to protect the writer and his or her family and friends from the pain it might bring.  A memoir is not simply a journal, it’s not jumbled “spillage” that pours from one’s mind to the page in haphazard fashion.  It’s a carefully crafted story.  Needless to say, this blog is not a memoir.

All of that having been said, the point of this post is to convince myself, in part, to begin to write a memoir.  It’s not that I think my life and the stories surrounding it have any particular value on their face, but that I think I have learned…and am learning…lessons that could be of value to others if shared.  If I write a memoir, it will not be therapy to overcome lifelong challenges that can be met only by unleashing them from the dungeons of my mind so they may find their way to the harsh light of day.  Instead, it will be my way of delivering a message that there’s something important to be learned from anyone’s life, even one as nondescript and unimpressive as mine.

I’ll announce the completion of my memoir here first, of course.  Come back when you’re older for details.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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