Memoir is the best search mechanism that writers are given. Memoir is how we try to make sense of who we are, who we once were, and what values and heritage shaped us. If a writer seriously embarks on that quest, readers will be nourished by the journey, bringing along many associations with quests of their own. Inventing the Truth, The Art and Craft of Memoir, by William Zinsser
Starting Places. That’s what I call the episodes of my life which I’ve been writing about in my journal. Most of them take place in the midwestern suburban neighborhood were I grew up during the 1960’s, a neighborhood designed for the influx of returning WWII veterans who needed an affordable place to raise their burgeoning families. A neighborhood where I was something of an anomaly – an only child where most every family was Catholic and dedicated to the principals of that faith in terms of procreation. A neighborhood where I learned to be comfortable within large groups of rough and tumble children, but also where I carved a niche for myself and the tiny adult who lived within me, the one who could spend hours nestled among her stuffed animals reading, writing stories, and drawing pictures, or playing happily away at the piano.
In recalling the childhood me, I clearly see the development of today’s me, the places I started out in terms of personality and preferences and reactions to the world around me. So I like Zinsser’s idea of memoir as a “search mechanism,” a way a writer tries to “make sense of who we are, who we once were, and what values and heritage shaped us.” That’s why I enjoy reading memoirs so much. I’m fascinated by Starting Places – my own, and other peoples.