Memoir vs. Biography
This week was the two year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, 2010. The news tell us that generous help was offered from all over the world, yet so much is needed and the Haitian people still live by and large in extremely primitive, and often unhealthy conditions.
As a memoir writer myself, I always appreciate when someone can tell a poignant story but make it so personal and accessible, that I can both enjoy it and be uplifted rather than discouraged. In this vein, I recommend to you On That Day Everybody Ate, an inspiring memoir written by Margaret Trost.
A memoir is not the same as a biography. A biography usually covers a person’s whole life, while a memoir writer often chooses to focus on a specific part of his or her life, to bring attention to a significant or pivotal experience. Yet for the reader to feel connected, the writer has to bring in enough history so you know and feel sympathetic to her/his point of view.
This is not easy. I have struggled and rewritten my manuscript many times because of this issue. In order for you to care about my search for my mother’s buried past, you have to know something about my past, yet not too much. I hope I have done as good a job as Margaret Trost. She is sympathetic, vulnerable and courageous – and she is feeding families and children who would be going hungry without her intervention.
As you read her book, you see she is not a superheroine. That’s the best part. She opens the door for us to know each small effort makes a difference. It’s a fast and fascinating read, and if you want to find out more about the organization she founded, The What If Foundation, just click here.