Random header image... Refresh for more!

Blogging is Writing Your Memoir in Real Time

In Measure of Love, Rachel has this thought about her blog while she’s out to dinner with Jared:

And maybe that is it. Maybe it isn’t really real until I write about it on my blog. My online space crystallizes my life, clarifies events, records what has happened. It is my memoir in real time; I am constantly making decisions about what to include, what to gloss over, what I should tell for prosperity, and what I will most likely regret putting in print.

With memoir writing, you have the benefit of retrospect.  You know which moments stuck with you, influenced an event, remained in your memory.  And you also know which feelings were fleeting feelings of little consequence in the big picture even if they felt enormous at the time. Because you have the benefit of time, you can weave a cohesive story.  You know where to lead the reader; you are in charge.

But with a blog, the reader and the writer are stumbling along together at the same time.  We’re holding each other’s arm and tentatively stepping through the story, unsure of how it will unfold.  The writer can’t confidently lead the reader because the writer doesn’t know where their story is going, they have no clue what will be important down the road.  And therein lies the problem: readers don’t want to waste time — we want the marrow, the finished dish, the protein that will help us understand the other person while we understand ourselves.  We can get that with a book because we know the writer has plucked out the best parts of the story for our entertainment and elucidation.  But with a blog, it’s hit or miss.  You may read a lot of posts that end up being tiny moments trapped in glass that don’t really connect to the greater story at all.

You see the dilemma.

So how does Rachel — or me, or you — get around this problem?  How do we blog, writing our memoirs in real time?  How do we know what to write down and what to let float into the ether?  What to post and what to leave in the draft folder?  How do we wrap our minds around the way we interact with one another and use that understanding to build that story in real time?  How do we look objectively at a moment and think, “that is worth writing about” or “I can let this moment pass unrecorded with words?”

My answer is toward the end of the book (hint: it’s in the second blog post).  But what’s your answer?

Thinking through the past few months, which posts would you definitely put in a reflective memoir down the road and which events — now with a little time between then and now — would be eliminated from the final draft of your memoir?  Moreover, how do you choose what to blog about and what to let pass from your mind in terms of what you deem important?

Like this idea?  There’s a lot more where that came from in Measure of Love.   I promise you; just read the book.  You can pick up your own copy anywhere they sell books including Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


1 Peg { 04.25.13 at 9:21 am }

when I was little I really really (I’m mean really) wanted a pen pal. Someone from somewhere exotic, whose life was completely different from mine. I would pour out all of my thoughts and dreams on paper to this mysterious kid who would in turn let me into his/her world. I’d describe my life, our family, our home in each letter like a serial publication in a magazine. I imagined waiting by the mailbox looking for the next missive. My penpal would be interested in every word I wrote and in turn I’d savour all of his/hers. I never got a pen pal.

I think of blogging like finally getting my pen pal but better. I even have lots of pen pals now. Some of them write back and some of them don’t. Some of them have their own blogs so I can learn about their life and provide feedback even if it’s just a “sorry, that sucks, or way to go!” The wait time is often instantaneous. I get to tell my story, my dreams, my fears and someone is usually on the other end to listen. Even if I get no comments or even if no one actually reads something I wrote, I get the satisfaction of sealing that envelope and sending it out.

So I guess for me, my blog is more about making a connection than it is about archiving my life or writing my memoir in real time. I have made real friends. I look forward to their letters and I hope they look forward to mine.

2 Katie { 04.25.13 at 9:59 am }

I’ve never thought about it that way before, but you’re absolutely right. I needed to read this today, during a time when I’m struggling a bit with my feelings and contemplating as to whether I’m going to put them on my blog (or leave them in a private place). Thank you for this, Mel. Looking forward to reading the new book!

3 a { 04.25.13 at 10:12 am }

Eh, I wouldn’t put anything in a memoir – my life is just not that interesting (and I like it that way. Interesting involves conflict.). But I do enjoy going back and reading my travel journals and such, to see what I thought was important at the time. I never think it’s important in retrospect, and usually laugh at myself for even writing it down.

I’m hoping my copy of Measure of Love will be arriving soon…I opted for the physical book, because I like the tangible. And I can give it to my library when I’m done, if I’m feeling particularly generous!

4 serenity { 04.25.13 at 1:27 pm }

Love this post. This is exactly how I feel about blogging, except I don’t know the story arc. Love the idea of it being a “memoir in real time.” That is such a powerful image to me.

And this is reminding me to download Measure of Love for kindle now.


5 Pepper { 04.25.13 at 2:37 pm }

Love the ideas I get from the comments here. Why has it not occurred to me to donate Measure of Love to my library for others to enjoy?? What a lovely idea!

6 Lori Lavender Luz { 04.25.13 at 2:52 pm }

I know you have an entire blog post here, full of questions and thoughts that will make me think, but I just can’t get past Jared.


Soon I’ll be ready to start Measure of Love (it’s already on my Kindle) so I can solve that mystery!

7 It Is What It Is { 04.25.13 at 4:50 pm }

It’s interesting because when I started my blog over 3 years ago, I intended it to be the outline, the backbone, essays if you will that I would eventually piece together into a memoir. Not that I would write a memoir in 1,000 word essays but that as my life unfolded in real time and as I was capturing on my blog, I wouldn’t need to pay so much attention to every detail for fear of forgetting because it would all be there, on my blog.

8 jodifur { 04.25.13 at 9:30 pm }

I definitely write things as they happen, but I try to write them objectively. It is hard because when you write as things happen to you, you can’t always view them with the luxury of time. I know I have gone back and read blog posts and thought “I wish I had written that in a different way.” But at that moment in time, that was how I felt.

9 Justine { 04.25.13 at 9:42 pm }

I feel like it’s been the reverse for me lately … the more I need to write about the things that are happening, the less I am writing them down in my blog. I know I shouldn’t write about the employment issues and the shit that has been going down around me. I am feeling vulnerable about writing about what’s happening in therapy, because I finally decided to make my blog public (for all sorts of stupid Google reasons, not to mention that it wasn’t that hard to find anyway). And since those two things are sucking up most of my headspace right now, there’s not a whole lot happening on my blog. Which is weird, because in the past, I’ve written *more* during times when I need to work things out, not *less*. And it’s oddly crippling.

I need to either figure out that I’m OK with being public, or not … because the in-between isn’t working.

But in answer to your question … I think that those tiny moments “stuck in glass” aren’t really disconnected at all. As I used to tell my students: those are the things that make you YOU, even if they don’t seem to “matter” right now. So I guess we decide to write things down if they matter to us, not necessarily if they matter to the “story” … because I think those decisions themselves help to co-create narrative (I mean, not just the content, but the meta-decision about content, if that makes any sense?) …

(Says the one who comments more than she writes now.)

10 persnickety { 04.26.13 at 12:19 am }

I think my husband envisaged a memoir style blog when it was set up, but it became a place where I (when i can) witter on about the things in my head. It didn’t start life as an infertility blog. There are posts that don’t align with that part of my life.

I would have liked it to be more anonymous, but again, stymied by the other half who tried to plaster my name all over it.

It is therapy for me, a way of putting issues that are hard to express in real life out there. Consequently, no one in my immediate family (apart from my husband, who sporadically catches up) reads it anymore. My mum found it to honest, and my sister displayed extremely poor timing in reading a rather bitter post about the fact my parents are doing the best job possible to ensure that the overwhelming feeling I associate with my niece is guilt, followed by depression.
I am not sure I want those posts in a memoir. And I was horrified to realise recently that the little QR code on my personal “business” cards links people through to that blog, not my relatively sunny project 365. for which i can totally blame my husband, he did the card setup.

11 Kir { 04.30.13 at 10:22 am }

I loved this for many reasons.
Since my blog started as a way for me to write about infertility and then pregnancy /motherhood, it is a memoir. A disjointed one, a sporadic smattering of how I’m feeling ,what I’m feeling, why I’m feeling it.

and even when I moved to writing fiction, I found that the things that were bothering me, the things I longed to shout or scream or whisper found a way into those stories. My memoir in fiction form. (As my HS chemistry teacher used to say, “there is always more than one way to get to the donut store. The important thing is you get there.”

I feel like my blog is there way I get “there.”

12 Kir { 04.30.13 at 10:23 am }

ohhhh BTW, I love MOL, love it. I wish I could write like you do. I am enjoying every chapter and the little nuances of NYC. I am reaching for my “BOOK” (read: Galaxy Tablet) again. Thank you for awakening my love of a GOOD story again.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
The contents of this website are protected by applicable copyright laws. All rights are reserved by the author