Remembering Your Past to Put It in a Memoir

A friend asked me yesterday, “How do you remember things for your memoirs?”

“I’ve been obsessive about journaling since I was quite young,” I said. “If I had to write my memoirs without those journals, I don’t think I could do it.” I waved my large 1973 journal at him and showed my tiny but mostly legible handwriting.

He said, “One time I started dictating whatever I could remember from my childhood. I didn’t stop for two hours!”

So there are many methods.

I’ve been reading a few pages a day from 1973, and when I reflect on it, more details do come to mind. The sound and smell of the ocean coming in the windows, the feeling of a hug, how the little girl next door looked in the skirt I sewed for her from fabric scraps. I didn’t write descriptions much in the journal, mostly events, but that’s enough to evoke smells, sounds, sights, emotions.

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