A memoir is different from fiction because the writer is required to do a lot of introspection. But, what does the word mean? How does one do that? Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “a reflective looking inward; an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings.” When I started working on my memoir I had no idea how to look inward. It has been the process of digging deep down into my memories and trying to retrieve emotions that has taught me how to reflect.
The learning process started with a recommendation that I spend more time thinking than writing. First thing in the morning, during that twilight time before I am fully awake, I have found is the best time to just think. The difficult part is to try to remember later what it was I was thinking about and write it.
The next step is to write down whatever I remember. I edit it by following another piece of advice, “Don’t tell. Do show.” It is all in the details such as where I was, what time of year was it, what was the weather like, what were the sounds, what were the smells, etc. Recalling the details leads to more memories.
Once the memories have been written down, I go back to try to recall what my emotional state was. It is an amazing thing that after some time it all comes back to me. Memories of events and feelings I have thought about in years return to me in vivid detail.
It has also been really fun to reminisce with my husband and others who are mentioned in my manuscript about things that happened years ago. Their different perspectives of what transpires helps to fill in additional emotions and lead to reinterpretation of my feelings. These conversations are very touching.
The process is still new to me but at least now I understand what is meant by introspection.