Blogging as memoir

Tonight I attended the first in a series of group readings, part of  “The Memoir Project” at The Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy, NY. Memoirs are tremendously “in” right now, and this series features classes and workshops as well as readings. By and large, the evening was engrossing, but a large part of the appeal lay in seeing and hearing the writers live. I doubt I’d ever seek out their work in book form, and in fact I rarely read memoirs at all.

The evening got me thinking – how much do we really care to know about the details of others’ lives? It’s a question pertinent to blogging as well. Why on earth should anyone want to read about the minutiae of someone else’s existence? To make it worth the reader’s time and effort, we need to strike a common chord that transcends self-centered blather. Therein lies the challenge of daily blogging.

It’s even more challenging to blog at 11 p.m. when I’m sleepy and my two cats want their bedtime snack. Unfortunately my office also serves as their bedroom (and litter box room). Sometimes we share the space equitably, but when they’re restless or hungry they writhe around on my desk, claws extended, soliciting tummy rubs. Right now they’re telling me it’s time to sign off.

I view blogging as a form of communal memoir grounded in the here and now. Any thoughts on this?

7 thoughts on “Blogging as memoir

  1. Hi Julie,
    It’s a good question – “Why on earth should anyone want to read about the minutiae of someone else’s existence?”
    I think it’s because none of us wants to believe we are alone in this world, and when someone shares details of their inner world, it gives others a chance to connect, relate to, empathize with, learn from, disagree with, or say to ourselves, “Thank goodness someone else feels the same way I do.”
    I do think there’s a line some memoirs cross – when sharing becomes dumping or when it doesn’t necessarily relate to universal themes most humans deal in. But I understand it’s not everyone’s thing. And that’s okay.


  2. I like your idea about blogging as writing memoirs. Since I started writing about 2 years ago, I’ve printed out all my stories, readers comments, ideas. They are very good “photos” of this period of my life.

    In Quest of Theta Magic

  3. No way! I thought about taking that memoir class. I’d love to hear more about it.

    This is a good point, that blogging can be a form of memoir. I think the challenge is even greater in blogging to make the personal thoughts you share interesting and relevant to other people’s lives, partly because it’s so easy to ramble on in blog entries. I’ll have to give this more thought…

    See you today at Panera!

  4. Because we are all different and all have different interests, memoirs won’t appeal to everyone. Personally, I like reading anything – memoirs, diaries, journals, letters – that bring history to life. In other words, current day memoirs don’t draw me in, but they might fifty years from now. When we can “beam” ourselves home for dinner after a business meeting in Hong Kong, I might enjoy reading tales about when such a meeting required multiple days for travel.

    I often read books in groups – soldiers’ memoirs from the Napoleonic and Civil Wars, when soldiers could look into the eyes of their opponent, read along side a WWII bomber’s memoir and a current date drone pilot are strikingly different in terms of daily activity and the feel of the battlefield, yet they all must accept the hard fact – if they are good at their jobs, they are taking the lives of strangers. How attitudes to that little detail change and do not change is fascinating.

    So you are correct, reading about the mundane details of someone’s daily, contempory life can be about as exciting as looking at strangers vacation photos. Each and every day, day after day, is not entertaining when stated flatly.

    But we’re writers. We know how to engage our readers.

  5. I think more people like to read about the details of other people’s lives than we might think. I’ve been blogging on LiveJournal (under another name) for several years, and I follow the LJ’s of many people – and while there’s a social aspect to that, I DO also enjoy simply reading the day to day details of other people’s lives.

    I think it’s good for us to see that other people have the same troubles we do, the same mundane chores, the same kinds of hopes and fears. And I think it’s also when we see the differences. Sometimes they show us our lot is not so bad as we think it is.

    Elle Parker

  6. In the last year, I read two unpublished memoirs, one involving a woman’s spiritual moment at a rock concert and what she made of that experience, and the other a young man’s one-year stint as a prison guard at Leavenworth. Not normally a reader of memoir, I was hooked after those two. We meet people, we get a tiny glimpse into their today lives without much of the history, we’re subjected to the public face, the brave front. But no human escapes trauma and tragedy. Memoir reminds us of what lies beneath the surface. It reminds us that we’re not alone.


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