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Memoir Examples | Learn by Example

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Learn by Example

How do you write a book about your life? Where do you begin?

Memoir examples are the best way to understand the genre. You may not have time to read a full fledged book but you can get your memories flowing by reading short, personal memoir examples like this one that tells you a little about me.

There are tons of memoir essays (short stories) on the web. Look up and read a few and then write your own. Examples make it easier!

*Preface - This is my recollection of an event from 30 some odd years ago that forever changed me. Can you relate?

Mom had the task of delivering the news to me.

"Well, I can't believe it, but your father will soon be an official member of the U.S. Navy... again" mom said.

My palms were wet, bile rising in my throat. The interior of the roomy, two-toned Dodge suddenly seemed claustrophobic.

Mom gave me a cursory, sidelong glance, then continued, "... and we got his orders today."

Memoirs of a Navy Brat - A Girl's Adventure During the Depression and World War II

To write memoir, you need to read memoir. Choose a story that covers a viewpoint or aspect that you can relate to. Remember, writers have to be readers!

My throat muscles constrict, fighting the nausea. I knew it going to happen, but chose to play ostrich. I wanted to attend one high school, start to finish. In my adolescent mind, as long as I ignored the possibility, I wouldn't have to deal with it. It made perfect sense to me.

Thoughts, questions and cuss words were swirling in my brain, fighting to be the first out of my mouth. I needed to come up with some sort of coherent response. A response my mom was obviously waiting for. Of course, it needed to convey the time honored, teenage attitude of indifference.

Humor, I can deal with this and still come off 'cool' if I inject a little humor. I pull my bugged out eyes back into their sockets, take a deep breath and say,

"Where are we going - Gilligan's Island?"

People always say:

"Start at the beginning".

Not so.

The beauty of memoir is being able to start at any moment in your life.

"Glad I could oblige"

Mom twists to face me; her mouth gaping open. Then, to my utter horror, she completely dissolves into hysterical laughter. In that moment, my only rational thought was, "Glad I could oblige. "

We're sitting at the stop sign at the end of the road we live on. Thank God we weren't holding up traffic. Mom was taking me to cheerleading practice when she makes this life changing announcement. I sit there, watching and waiting for her to regain her composure and let me in on the gag. Finally, she wipes her tears of laughter, takes a few cleansing breaths and continues her foray into ruining my young world.

"Actually" she says, "you're very close. We'll be stationed on Guam..."


Photographic Print">Map of Guam, Pacific

Photographic Print

Buy at AllPosters.com

Satellite View of Guam - Courtesy of NASA

guam usa satellite

guam usa satellite

A shiver runs down my back, though the temperature in the car is fine. My mind is racing with the impact of her announcement. For the first time in my life, I'm speechless; no witty comeback, no sassy retort, nothing.

As I gawk at my mom, a hint of recognition is teasing my brain. Then, my junior high geography class comes back, full tilt! An island; it's an island somewhere between Hawaii and Japan. And, if memory serves, a very small island!

Mom, oblivious to my comatose state, carries on with her one sided conversation. She suggests after practice we look up Guam in our well worn set of encyclopedias.

You see, it's October, 1979. No internet, computers or cell phones.

Tumon Beach, Guam, USA

tumon beach, Guam, USA

tumon beach, Guam, USA

There is a natural reef surrounding the majority of the island. This makes the beaches shallow and full of shades of blue and green. Shell hunting is awesome!

Image Source: jetalone on Flickr under the Attribution 2.0 CC License

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My Last Sunset on Guam - 15 years old on Guam

my last sunset on Guam

my last sunset on Guam

This is a photo of me enjoying my last sunset on Guam. From here, we went to eat at a pizza parlor and then on to the airport to begin our long journey back to the states. We flew from Guam to Honolulu to San Francisco to St. Louis to Evansville, IN before we were finished.

or rather, the beginning. A whole book could be written about these 15 months in my life... and maybe it will be.

The challenge is to capture in words all the emotions swirling like a whirlpool -- I was scared, sad, angry but at the same time excited, wondered what it would be like, how my life would change.

How did I feel about -- saying goodbye to family and friends, the 43 1/2 hour trip from Seattle to Guam, my first impressions of my new island home and so much more. This is all material for a book, if I so choose.

I bet you have experiences, emotions and situations that would make a wonderful book, article or history for your family.

We all have a lifetime of stories.

Which one of yours wants

to be told first?

What About You?

Would you consider writing about your life experiences? (a book, article or essay)

Research for your memoir

Lou Willett Stanek says in her book titled "Writing Your Life - Putting Your Past on Paper",

"If you were to write an autobiography, you would have to spend a lot of time at the courthouse, looking up the date your great-grandfather was born, what year your father bought the house on Elm Street. The research for a memoir can be done in an easy chair. Close your eyes..."

Sit back in your easy chair and close your eyes. Think back in time. What specific experience from your life comes to mind...

Your first date?

Your high school graduation?

The kindly neighbor lady that fed you homemade cookies and milk?

The time you were almost fired from your job?

When you moved from the only home you'd ever known?

When someone close to you passed away?

The time you first felt you were really on your own in this big world?

"Writing Your Life"

It's not hard. Allow your mind to wander and follow the movie in your mind.

Memoir Books to help you along... - We all need help, now and again

Purple Star Award!


Very honored to receive a Purple Star on January 20, 2011

Image Credit: Stars | Forward this Picture

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Learn by Example

My daddy always says you learn best by example. I hope this short memoir example helps you!

Thank you for stopping by!

Do Come Back and See Me Again!

~ DecoratingforEvents ~



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Contact Me!

What's Your Story? - We all have a story to tell...

Kate Fereday Eshete from United Kingdom on August 23, 2013:

I'm writing my memoirs and it's taking me a long time. Reading this lens, with all the super book recommendations, is a great motivator. I have lived in the Ethiopian Highlands since 2002 and I have had many adventures. Thanks for an informative and helpful lens.

TedWritesStuff on February 02, 2013:

Thank you for a little nudge in the right direction ;-)

al-parks on December 19, 2012:

Hi there, I have also published my story - Bloody Hell, What's an Alpaca? and I have recently joined squidoo, still getting to grips with it, it is very time consuming :)

Judith Nazarewicz from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on November 30, 2012:

Thanks so much for sharing, your writing is so vivid, just love it!

BuckHawkcenter on October 24, 2012:

Fabulous page and well-deserved purple star, too! Great story.

anonymous on October 21, 2012:

Really enjoyed your story. Thank you! I really appreciate your lens :)

anonymous on October 13, 2012:

great examples thanks for sharing

debbymakarius on October 10, 2012:

I really loved your work. Very muck liking it. Especially the images which attracts me the most. Just dropping by to say take care and more power. Hopefully you can visit my lens too dear. Thanks again!

DecoratingEvents (author) on September 09, 2012:

@anonymous: So glad you liked it! I really loved the way Ms. Stanek encourages you to close your eyes and drift through your memories. Lots and lots of story ideas come to light that way. Good luck with your students and I hope they have fun!

anonymous on September 09, 2012:

Thank you. I teach 8th grade language arts and we will be reading examples of memoirs and writing memoirs. I really like the quote you used from Stanek's book. I need to buy the book, but for now I will use the quote in my study guide.

Leah J. Hileman from East Berlin, PA, USA on September 08, 2012:

This is an interesting lens topic. I don't read much in the way of biographies, but I know it's a genre that's popular with others. The beauty of memoirs is that anyone can write about any experience as if they're the expert. There's no limit to the stories that can be told.

SquirrelWhispers on August 17, 2012:

Memoirs of a crazy squirrel! Now that would be fun to write :) Wonder if my friends would recognize me and my stories.

poorwendy lm on July 19, 2012:

Wow. Now I'm inspired to start my own memoir. I like the advice on how it doesn't have to start from the beginning because I wouldn't know where to begin. If I were to just write, then I'll get something done.

Auntie-M LM on March 27, 2012:

The great thing about memoirs is that, while my own life may not be that exciting, the places I sometimes visit really are.

William Leverne Smith from Hollister, MO on March 27, 2012:

Thanks for sharing. I'll want to come back to this lens! ;-)

Country Sunshine from Texas on March 27, 2012:

The majority of articles I have written so far are personal stories. I see how I could eventually put them all together for a memoir. I love the way you bring the reader in with your words. It makes me want to know more about your trip!

anonymous on September 29, 2011:

I loved this lens, and am dying to know more about Guam!!! I completely understand why your mom laughed at the Gilligan's island comment!

Laurel Johnson from Washington KS on June 12, 2011:

Loved the lens. Very intriguing and made me want to know more about you, which is one indication of a well-written memoir.

irenemaria from Sweden on June 08, 2011:

I do a lot of writing in Swedish. The magazines publish my stories =)

fantasticallyfi on May 08, 2011:

Wonderfully engaging and personal. Thanks for sharing and inspiring!

Wednesday-Elf from Savannah, Georgia on February 14, 2011:

This is a terrific lens -- loved your story about how you found out you were moving to Guam -- and your reaction! What a shock that would be at 14! :) Congrats on well deserved honors you have achieved with this lens! Happy Valentine's Day!

thesuccess2 on February 06, 2011:

Before the Internet when you went to places like Guam you were totally cut off - for good and for bad. I'd like to write one day about my arrival alone in foreign a country the shock and the excitement.

anonymous on January 28, 2011:

Congratulations on being featured by the SquidTeam's Best of Standout RocketMoms

JulietJohnson on January 21, 2011:

Really super lens - great story telling and a well-deserved purple star. My father was a memorialist, sitting on a tiny island off the West Coast of Scotland. He had a good time turning people's memories into an epic story of their life. AND, he found a source for a leather bound version of same that cost on $7,500 for 10 copies... back in 1992. Can you imagine?! LOL

blessedmomto7 on January 21, 2011:

Great lens, congrats on the purple star!

Sandy Mertens from Frozen Tundra on January 21, 2011:

Congratulations on your Purple Star!

DecoratingEvents (author) on January 20, 2011:

@Sylvestermouse: You are so sweet and it is much appreciated! (I knew you'd like the sparkles, LOL)

Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on January 20, 2011:

Congratulations, my sweet friend, on that little, well deserved purple star! Love that sparkly one you added too. LOL

DecoratingEvents (author) on January 18, 2011:

@anonymous: Thanks Kimberly! I know what you mean. I don't mind moving, under most circumstances either!

anonymous on January 18, 2011:

This is funny. I was a Coast Guard brat and I remember wanting to just stay in one place for more than two years. Now I can't wait for an opportunity to move again!

RinchenChodron on January 17, 2011:

You seem to be an expert. Well written. Thanks for the ideas.

Ann from Yorkshire, England on January 16, 2011:

very nicely done

DecoratingEvents (author) on January 15, 2011:

@BarbRad: Ah, Barb! Thank you for your interest! I am working on a book. Wish I had more time!

DecoratingEvents (author) on January 15, 2011:

@JoyfulPamela2: Thank YOU for the angel blessing! Much appreciated!!

DecoratingEvents (author) on January 15, 2011:

@GiftsBonanza: Am working on it! Thanks for reading!

DecoratingEvents (author) on January 15, 2011:

@JanieceTobey: Thank you Janiece! Glad you enjoyed it!

DecoratingEvents (author) on January 15, 2011:

@anonymous: Awwww, that means a lot to me! Thank you.

DecoratingEvents (author) on January 15, 2011:

@Ann Hinds: Thank you for your kind words! I agree, Virginia is great!!!

Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on January 15, 2011:

You'd better write that book soon, because I want to know about that time in Guam.

JoyfulPamela2 from Pennsylvania, USA on January 15, 2011:

Thanks for sharing your interesting story and for the writing tips! *SquidAngel Blessed* =D

GiftsBonanza on January 14, 2011:

Certainly sounds exciting - would love to hear more!

JanieceTobey on January 14, 2011:

Wow.... I really enjoyed reading your story! Very well written!

anonymous on January 14, 2011:

You are a very gifted writer, I would buy your book :)

Ann Hinds from So Cal on January 14, 2011:

Between you and Virginia, I could write memoirs all day long. Great story, I would love to hear more about your life on Guam.

DecoratingEvents (author) on January 13, 2011:

@Sylvestermouse: Thank you Cynthia! You are so right! Slices, portions, pieces that you want to share is what you share -- nothing more! Good luck!

DecoratingEvents (author) on January 13, 2011:

@Virginia Allain: How sweet you are Virginia! I use yours for my memoir prompts sometimes too! We think alike!

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on January 13, 2011:

I really appreciate your examples. These will be good for my memoir writing group.

Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on January 13, 2011:

This is fabulous! I need to read this lens before I write every new lens. It "refreshes" me and my reason for writing. It reminds me that it really is ok to write about me and my life and that I can tell any "section" of it that I want to and omit any section that I need to in order to not hurt others.

anonymous on January 12, 2011:

Perfect way to start memoir - illustrated in this example.

ohcaroline on January 12, 2011:

I like the way you approach your writing. It's very fresh. Keep it up.

DecoratingEvents (author) on January 12, 2011:

@capriliz lm: Still, today, my mom can't figure out how I came up with Gilligan's Island as a guess. I blew her away. Of course, the ironic part was that I was KIDDING and she wasn't! LOL

capriliz lm on January 12, 2011:

Mandee, I always enjoy reading your pages. I love the story you just wrote. I keep thinking about your Gilligan's Island and Guam.

DecoratingEvents (author) on January 12, 2011:

@LisaAuch1: Lisa, you are so kind! I really appreciate it. I will say "right back attcha"!

DecoratingEvents (author) on January 12, 2011:

@hayleylou lm: Thank you Hayley. I always do a double take when I see your name. My daughter's name is the same though spelled differently: Haley Louise!

DecoratingEvents (author) on January 12, 2011:

@Adriana Daniela: Thank you!

DecoratingEvents (author) on January 12, 2011:

@tssfacts: My published book is a ways a way yet but I will make sure you get a copy! LOL

DecoratingEvents (author) on January 12, 2011:

@SandyMertens: Thanks Sandy! You crack me up!

Lisa Auch from Scotland on January 12, 2011:

Always a pleasure reading your pages! you write with such ease and beautiful style, it makes readingso easy.

hayleylou lm on January 12, 2011:

Really enjoyed your story

Adriana from New Market on January 12, 2011:

I'd love to, some day, be able to write my life's story. Great lens!

tssfacts on January 12, 2011:

Great job of putting your thoughts on paper er I mean lens. Can't wait to read your published book. Your tip-bits are great so I know a book would be too.

Sandy Mertens from Frozen Tundra on January 12, 2011:

Like your memoir lens and the little stories. Often I have thought about this, but I would have to Hollywood it up a bit.

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