Why memoir? and what about doubts?

In today's interview, The Examiner asked, "Why did you choose your particular genre?"

A: That’s a great question! When I was working on this book, some of my friends advised me to fictionalize my story. They saw how I was sweating blood over getting the truth onto paper, and they thought it might be easier if I distanced myself and put the story “out there” away from me, as a fiction.

But I knew it had to be memoir. When I read a good memoir, I find there’s a certain thrill in knowing the story is real, as well as a certain solidity and trust in the author that I develop as I go along. There’s the sense of getting to know a real human being, with their vulnerability and their defenses. I needed to put forth that truthfulness, no matter how difficult it was.

"Do you ever experience self-doubts with your work?"

A: I encountered several kinds of doubt. First I wondered if I’d have the nerve to write the truth about the degree of pain I endured as I uncovered fragments of abuse that shattered my notions about my family. Then I didn’t know how to find a form and tone that felt correct: dead honest, intimate, and yet crafted solidly to hold the story. I had to experiment for months to find the form, which now is a linear story, but with pieces from my journals and with poems as well.

I didn’t know how much to include about my family’s history and where to put it. Finally, I saw that a dozen or so family snapshots would do the job, and that these should enter after I had introduced the reader to the basic problem and asked the question, “Was this a family that could support abuse?”... Read the rest of the interview.

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