I Wish Hilary Mantel Were My Sister I: Memoir Isn’t Easy

hilarymantelHonestly, I wish Hilary Mantel were my sister. Despite egregiously spelling her name with only one “l”, she is one cool writer. In a New York Times interview she demolishes the naive view that memoir writing is easy:

Memoir’s not an easy form. It’s not for beginners, which is unfortunate, as it is where many people do begin. It’s hard for beginners to accept that unmediated truth often sounds unlikely and unconvincing. If other people are to care about your life, art must intervene. The writer has to negotiate with her memories, and with her reader, and find a way, without interrupting the flow, to caution that this cannot be a true record: this is a version, seen from a single viewpoint. But she has to make it as true as she can. Writing a memoir is a process of facing yourself, so you must do it when you are ready.

GREAT to read this. In every writing class I teach there are memoirists who feel guilty because they’ve bought the line that, “You’re just telling your own story. How hard can it be?” Hopefully if you’re one of them you’ll take heart from Mantel’s wise comments.

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