Sunday, August 3, 2008

Memoir “Evolution”

A memoir is how one remembers one's own life,
while an autobiography is history, requiring research,
dates, facts double-checked. It is more about what can be gleaned

from a section of one's life than about the outcome of the life as a whole.

--Gore Vidal

When I first started writing Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights circa 1996: I didn’t even realize it was a
memoir. I wasn’t familiar with the genre. I’m not sure I had ever read one. Autobiography, yes. Memoir, no.

Good thing my busy life forced me to back burner the book for many years till I had the time to figure out what I was doing. A few years ago, I ratcheted up my learning curve. My book wrote itself, once I understood the purpose and perspective of its “type.” I quickly found out--memoir is just my type!

I’m here to tell you, it just might be your type, too. As a genre, memoir has been extremely
popular over the past ten years. You used to have to be famous to sell one. Now you just have to have led an interesting life. It helps, too, if you’re funny. Some of today’s best selling memoir writers and their stories are hilarious—David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, and John Grogan, to name a few.

Memoirs aren’t necessarily just fun and games. They often reach into the deepest pockets of who we are, pulling out illuminating our personal mysteries and our unique learning about life and living. Two of my favorite memoirists in this camp are
Elizabeth Gilbert and Anne Lamott. This isn’t to say that their books aren’t also sometimes sprinkled with funny.

I pitch my tent in both camps, deep and funny, in Hot Flashbacks. But here’s the part that may be just a smidge radical. I also make a pitch in my book for you to pitch your tent, too, for a genuine memoir campout.


Hot Flashbacks is a memoir sandwich. There’s the usual meaty memoir in the middle, but it has a couple of extra components you can think of as bread, because they are food for thought. In the Foreword, Coming Attractions, I suggest why it is important for as many baby boomers as possible to write or otherwise record their memoirs. In the Resources, I give readers a jumpstart with information on how they can do that.

To explain:

The real boom in the baby boom is a big blast of insight that periodically explodes over the heads of individuals from one the transitional generations of all time. Imagine what we could do if we combined those ahas!

It isn’t new for “elders” to record their life stories for posterity. What differs now is the sheer volume and timing for the trend to take off. Boomers represent 28 percent of the US population. The Me Generation has always loved to talk about itself. Why not ride the wave of the current memoir craze, which has been cresting for years with no end in sight.

So many people reaching the wisdom years at once is more than a brain trust. It’s nearly an embarrassment of riches. Boomers have the ability to share what they’ve learned about making life meaningful—not just with other people supposedly entering the golden years—but with people of all ages. Hot Flashbacks isn’t just a memoir. I hope it’s the start of a movement.

An “evolution.”

In the ‘60s, many boomers were into revolution—the counterculture— breaking down old structures to give birth to something perceived as better. Positive change would never happen without the occasional shake-up and reexamination of where we’re stuck as a society. How we create change is as important as change itself.

Evolution is a quieter, organic, step-by-step form of doing the same thing. My boomer memoir “evolution” takes the courage to share yourself, warts and all. To show what you have learned through your personal evolutionary process for the benefit of all.

Our world definitely needs your knowledge and experience for cultural enrichment. I want to reclaim the practice of indigenous people over the world, whose elders share their wisdom with their tribe. I call this indi-genius.

Maybe we don’t want to be called elder or anything that smacks of the old Old. But how could we object to sharing our smarts—our insights? To make a better world?

That’s why I have changed it to an acronym and now call us the ME (More Experienced) Generation.

Read a memoir, eventually mine when it’s in print. And while you’re at it, start making notes for yours.

Join the Evolution!


Photo: Joyce Before 60+ Years of Personal Evolution. Taken at Living Treasures Animal Park in Donegal, PA—July 2008.

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