Anytime we write anything, we have to first determine who our audience would be. Knowing to whom you write, determines how and what we write. I’ve read many memoirs over the past few years, and can see a difference quite easily of what audience the author wanted for their memories. There were a few different types of memoirs I discovered. More may exist, but these are the ones I noticed most.
1. The General Audience – This is when the author focuses mainly on their accomplishments and the road of their life experience that brought them to that point of success. It’s quite the ‘brag’ memoir. Most celebrities are found here.
2. The Professional Audience – This is when the author wants to impress the elite of their field by way of showing their own discoveries, talents and achievements with their professional ability. In my case it would be writing.
3. The Specific Audience – This is when the author focuses mainly on their peers (those with the same interests), and the road of life experiences that brought them to that specific point of view, be it political, social or religious ideology.
4. The Intimate Audience – This is when the author focuses mainly on those they are relation with, and hope to spread understanding and enlightenment to those intimate relations, revealing the purposes behind many of their choices, and through the example of their life experiences, show how they arrived to the point of view they carry.
I’ve been asked to write a memoir for someone else, someone of prominent standing in the world, and was excited about the project, which was being written for a general, professional and specific audience. However, I recently discovered what I truly desired was for this memoir to have been for an intimate audience. I didn’t want to showcase this person and all of their success in the world. I wanted to tell a story that spoke of bravery, growing pains, making mistakes and learning from them, and ultimately humanizing this person – pulling them off their public platform and showing them for the frail human they were; not for them, or those in their professional community, but for their family, especially their grown children.
You might ask yourself why I would have wanted to do that for this person. The simple answer is: Because I wanted the same for myself. I have two daughters and a son who are all young adults now. They are making their way through this world as best they know how. Sometimes they make good decisions and sometimes bad, just like everyone else. They’re old enough now that our relationship needs to change, moving from me being their over-bearing, protective Mama Bear, to becoming their Rock of Safety and Acceptance. No matter how much we try to deny it, we all strive for the acceptance of our parents, even if we hate and despise them. The only way I can become beneficial for them, is to change the way they see me. I will always be their mother, and they will always love me for that – even if they’re angry with me. However, if I’m to be of any value to them as an adult, they need to see me as an individual, someone who’s lived a life just as they’re living now, someone who has made mistakes and learned to get back up, someone who has had fears of their own and learned to face them. I need them to see me as a person of my own, not just their mother. I need to become human to them. I was once a little girl with hopes and fears; a teenager with angst and dreams; a young woman trying to make her way in this world the best I knew how, and then a mother, a woman of a professional career, and now a woman chasing her dreams. If my young adult children can see that I’m just as fallible, scared, weak, strong, determined, and capable of failure as I strive for success, then that is a good thing. Not that they can see they are either better or worse than me, but that we both stand on common ground in this world – as equals. I’m not their judge, jury and executioner in their quest to become independent adults. I can let go of the reins I’ve had to use in raising them (pulling them up, pushing them on, pulling them back), but I’d want them to know they don’t have to walk alone. THAT would be the memoir I’d write.
What about you? Who would you write your memoir for? What would your memoir say and why?
Till next time,