“The ramblings and grumblings of author Ad Hudler”

Memoir-writing, Lesson #47T4: The ending
Monday, May 2, 2011

Since I'm immersed in writing my first memoir (after writing four novels), I've been consuming as many of them as I can, and I see a common thread: Though many of them are well written, few have good, solid endings. They all just seem to peter out with a bunch of notebook-dumping: "Oh, and then this happened, and then this, and then this." It's as if the writer died while the book was in progress, and an editor somewhere had to finish the project.

While teaching a class at the Kentucky Writers' Conference a weeks ago, I shared this thought with my students, and asked them if they had any idea why memoirs had this problem. One smart woman raised her hand: "Memoirs are open-ended because your life's not over," she said. "You really don't know how the events in the memoir are going to impact you in the long run. You don't know the ending because, well, because you're still living."

I think she's right. Don't you?


Blogger Libby McMillan said...

True, dat.

After drawing readers into your life, a nice thing to do would be to leave them with both your hopes and your fears. Then they could at least make a semi-educated guess later, as to "the rest of the story" . . .

May 2, 2011 at 9:25 AM  

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