from the website of Sandra Scofield a novelist and author of Occasions of Sin: A Memoir

“[I]n memoir you’re stuck with a story your history gives you. You don’t have the license to invent in the old, fictional way: you can’t leap to making up things to fill the holes or change the shape of an event. You don’t alter chronology to make a dramatic arc tighter. At least I don’t think you do. What you do instead is dig deeper, into whatever artifacts you have, or you go to the library, or you just confess that you are making a best guess. Readers accept that. I think it makes them trust you. And it teaches you new ways to fashion a story.”

“If the past is dark, it’s scary and empty and haunted. I just say to the reader: Look, this is what I lived. I remember Scofield2it. None of us did great things, we weren’t important, except to each other, but remembering is important. Writer Charles Baxter suggests that when we write our memories, we do a kind of battle against the corporate mentality; we stop being consumers, we’re individuals. I like that idea. I don’t think memoirists are narcissistic; they are conservators.”

“Nothing comes fast or easy. Everything is about discovery. You have to think of writing as day labor; you show up. You work. At night, you study. Only you don’t get a paycheck, you get insight and story. And if you don’t get them the hard way, they won’t be worth very much. If you do, they are grace.”

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