Six or seven years I ago I read a lot of memoirs since I was writing my own childhood memoir and studying the genre. Then I went back to reading more fiction and poetry. Now, in preparation for writing this new memoir and taking the memoir course in January, I've picked up a few more to read and study. This evening I opened up my kindle, downloaded the memoir "Split" by Suzanne Finnamore, and found a big surprise.
I had been playing around with some different formulaic structures for my memoir and came up with the idea to break it into five sections based on Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's Five Stages of Grief. I thought that was a good idea for a novel about divorce. But Ms. Finnamore beat me to it. Lo and behold, right in the table of contents, I discovered my idea for structuring my own memoir wasn't original after all. Now it's back to brainstorming some other structure ideas.
She also begins her story with a scene that shows her husband downing martinis. Well I have a similar scene, or scenes, in my memoir since it is about my ex-husband's alcoholism. Can't do much about that. It is what it is and I can't remove those scenes or references.
Finnamore's writing is clear and rhythmic. Her style and voice pulled me right in, not to mention the connection I felt with that opening scene. So there you have it. A good book by a good writer and a great lesson in doing your homework when you want to publish a book.
I really need to read a lot more memoirs about divorce and alcoholism to see where my memoir will fit in. How it may be the same or different than other memoirs already on the bookstore shelves or in kindle and nook cyberspace.
Not that I mind doing all that reading. After all, a writer who doesn't obsess over reading can never make it, and it's hard enough as it is.
If my readers have any suggestions about memoirs on these topics please drop a note in the comment section of my blog or visit me on facebook or twitter and clue me in.
Off I go to brainstorm. The ideas are percolating already!