on Writers Helping Writers:
A few years ago, I told a friend that I’d nearly finished writing a memoir. She knew that it focused on the period my husband and I—both in our mid-to-late forties—were laid off simultaneously and struggling to get our careers and marriage back on track. Yet that didn’t stop her from suggesting “a surprise pregnancy cliffhanger ending.”
That’s when it occurred to me that not everyone knows that memoir, derived from the French mémoire, meaning “memory,” is a work of nonfiction. Even when people are aware that this genre is rooted in fact, they often think it is interchangeable with autobiography.
While these first-person narratives have plenty in common, they’re also quite different. Where do they overlap and how are they dissimilar? Let’s take a look.