I'd like to share some things I've leaned from my writing and from reading other people's memoirs.
Everyone has a story to tell. Even if you think your story is similar to that of another person (whose memoir you have read), yours is still unique to you. Some people have similar experiences, but each one is different. I do not know why I could not convince myself of this at first. Or why I felt this way after I had decided to write about my experience with depression and Prozac. You can from see from previous blog posts (if you haven't read my blog till now) that reading Prozac Nation gave me this idea, but I then felt my story was too similar. But many people have convinced me otherwise and I then could see that it is true.
You can find a memoir that you identify with and one that inspires you. (Perhaps more than one or one that's both). That, as you can see above, was true for me. I could identify with a lot of things that the author of Prozac Nation described. But I still had different life events and details, making my own story different. Definitely read another person's memoir if you feel you can identify with what they have written about. Similar events are what helps one person identify with another. Even if what the author of the memoir describes events that you have never experienced, you may still feel inspired to write your own memoir, no matter what you plan to focus it on. The fact that a bar owner from my hometown published a memoir was enough to make me think I could do my own, even if I didn't have any experiences similar to hers. Just the fact that I visit her bar frequently was inspiration enough, though it was really Prozac Nation that made me tell me story. Basically, I've found every memoir I've read to be thought-provoking in one way or another, especially those on depression, since I'm going through that myself.
Only tell what you feel is important to the focus of your memoir. I can recall a lot of things I could say contributed to my depression, but I only included those I recalled at the moment I was writing my notes. If I tried to write every single one, I would have a book the size of an unabridged dictionary :-) Some may have been edited based on the best of my memory. And I can recall some things that I feel don't contribute to the focus of my story.
This is what I have learned thus far. I'm sure there may be more to come.
And on a side note, my fascination with memoirs has given me an idea. More on this another time...