The Truth About Memoirs – What Took You Off The Desire Line?

The Truth About Memoirs – What Took You Off The Desire Line?


Writers Write is a comprehensive writing resource. This post is the first in our series, The Truth About Memoirs. A memoir is about what happens when we’re forced off the desire line by extraordinary experiences.

If you’ve ever been to a park or on a hike, you’ve probably come across a desire line.  A desire line is a rogue path caused by hundreds of feet, inadvertently causing a new trail. A desire line is usually the shortest distance between two points, a circuitous or ‘cheat’ route from beginning to end.

The Truth About Memoirs

It’s a great example of human nature. We all try to take the path of least resistance in life.

A memoir is often about what happens when you’re forced off the desire line by an extraordinary adventure – or experience – onto an unmapped and bewildering new course.

  1. You want to have a baby with your new husband – until you realise you have endometriosis.
  2. You’re ready to spend a quiet retirement – until your granddaughter and her newborn move in.
  3. You’re complacently following a corporate career – then your teenage son is hospitalised for a drug overdose.
  4. You’re unable to get over your painful divorce – when a scruffy stray dog shows up at your door.

What event took you off course?

Of course, we all veer off the path now and then and somehow find our way back to our ‘normal’ lives – with a few scrapes but no real scars.  A memoir is about what happens when we start to learn from these ‘detours’ and carve a new path in life – whether it’s an emotional journey or a physical pilgrimage.  We have come out on the other side irrevocably changed.

  1. You learn that there are other routes to motherhood that you never contemplated. After painful, failed medical procedures, you and your husband decide to adopt.
  2. You find that helping your granddaughter through the messy trails of motherhood has taught you about joy, innocence, and motherhood.
  3. Your son’s addiction turns you into a crusader for change. You quit your job to start an awareness campaign and launch a support group for the mothers and families with teens suffering through addiction.
  4. You adopt the stray and learn to love again, volunteering at an animal shelter and starting a blog about your lovable stray that readers love.

This article has 3 comments

  1. Debra Chandler

    I just wanted to drop a line and tell you that I am always glad to read articles from Writers Write. They are always informative, fresh and friendly. All of your faces are as familiar and welcome as old friends. Thank you!

  2. Writers Write

    Thank you so much, Debra. We really appreciate your feedback.

  3. Anthony Ehlers

    Thanks, Debra. So glad you enjoy our posts!

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