Introduction to Genre: Memoir

“A memoir is a collection of memories that an individual writes about moments or events, both public or private, that took place in the subject’s/person’s life.” I struggled to find an additional genre that allowed me to truly summarize my college living experience. I think that a memoir is a great way of encapsulating my living experiences, especially because I adore my current roommate. It’s the happy resolution that a memoir should have. It is a subgenre of autobiography that does not require one’s entire life story. I’m interested in it because I think the genre encompasses that reminiscent connotation that I am currently feeling. Perhaps this is a product of the changing leaves, my new status as an upperclassman, or my graduate school search. Regardless, a memoir seems like a fitting way to end the semester.

Personally, I always thought memoir had a sad connotation. After looking into the genre, it seems more about an uplifting story. I prefer this happier narrative and I think I can do it. Most of the ones I’m familiar with, such as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, are coming-of-age stories that almost have an expectation of being something the reader needs to be sympathetic. This is one of the most famous memoirs because it tackles trauma and racism, subject matters far more severe than the story I’m telling. In my genre research, I attempted to find reader expectations as opposed to my typical search for writer expectations. In this, I found:

A sympathetic main character

Vividly depicted scenes

Emotional tension

Increasing sense of drama/conflict:

A satisfying ending

My story provides all of these. I think I can add emotion to a lot of the scenes, especially when provided the lack of patience I was experiencing during much of this because I was in such a toxic relationship that I allowed to characterize my living experience for the better part of this.

There is also an expectation for a memoir to have a deeper meaning. I think I can give life to this premise through the coming-of-age aspect of it. The personal growth I experienced because of this, especially with regard to overcoming social anxiety, depression, and abuse during this time will allow me to cultivate this. I would love to explore this route because it is less comical and forces me to reflect on the situation from a different perspective. I’d like to focus more on the positive for a change. It’d be nice in the midst of exams.

4 thoughts to “Introduction to Genre: Memoir”

  1. I really like the idea of using your origin piece to create a memoir. It seems as though it will be a method of expression that helps you to move forward and learn from the period of time that your origin piece focused on!

  2. Hey Tatiyana,
    I love your idea of exploring the Memoir genre! I think this is a great way to talk about the roommate you now adore, as a memoir should be positive and happy as you found in your research! I definitely agree that emotion will be easy to incorporate, as you have shared with our group some of your breakup experiences and how you were able to lean on and trust your roommate, which is really special! I am excited to read this memoir! Great work! 🙂

  3. Tatiyana,
    I think a memoir is a great idea for this project. I’ve read memoirs that have all kinds of tones and I certainly don’t think they have to be sad. I’ve seen memoir authors like Jenny Lawson turn tough subjects like mental illness into something humorous, and while you said you don’t want yours to be funny, certainly there is a way to do a happier tone and have it still be entertaining and deep. Certainly your story fits all the conventions of the memoir well without having to spice it up!

  4. I’m so excited that you chose to do a memoir! I know you were toying around with the idea of a survival guide, but now I can totally see how you can turn your experiences into a coming-of-age tale about a difficult time in your life as you transitioned to college. You write very vividly and as a reader, I felt a lot of those reader expectations you listed above being satisfied. I think this is such a good solution to your open letter because you don’t have to worry about length as much or writing to a specific person.

Leave a Reply