Writing a Memoir Is Not Narcissistic

I struggle with the fear that memoir writing is a narcissistic pastime. I blame the fear on a  haunting 19th century painting I encountered in the Presbyterian church I attended throughout my childhood. I can still imagine that large and dark painting of a pointy-nosed man with stern eyes who points his Calvinistic finger at me and silently says, “Only God can save you from your wicked self-centered ways.”

I must also confess that I am a baby boomer – the post WWII generation marked by affluence, entitlement, and narcissism. It’s all about us. So memoir writing would be just the ticket for us who are self-centered and entitled, isn’t that so, Mr. Foreboding Minister at the Presbyterian church?

NO! I shout. Memoir is about storytelling, and fitting one’s own experience into the tapestry of the human condition broadens the purpose of the story and extends the reach to others’ lives. Humans are drawn to stories, and God bless those who make their stories come alive and give us glimpses into ourselves through their written memories.

If you want other affirming reasons to write a memoir, read Jerry Wexler’s Ten Reasons Anyone Should Write a Memoir. And you don’t have to feel guilty about any of them.


About Patti Albaugh

I grew up in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and graduated from Mount Vernon High School in 1965. I have a Bachelor's Degree from Mount Vernon Nazarene University and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. I am an Emeritus Professor at Otterbein University. In addition to writing creative nonfiction and fiction, I like bridge, genealogy, gardening, travel and Mah Jjong. I currently live in Tucson, Arizona, with my dog Tonto. I am the proud parent of children Justin and Amy and the proud grandmother (NANA) of granddaughters Katherine and Zoe.
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