Another way to think about writing memoir is to write about the present or even the future rather than the past. I almost prefer this idea, because memory is shaky, and this makes memoirs hardly any truer than novels.
I took this, Happier at Home, out the library, mostly as a joke, a few days ago. The list on the cover – kiss more, jump more – hardly inspired confidence as a route to home happiness, but I do like the idea of a documented self-improvement project. I think these make great topics for memoirs.
Take the guy who decided to follow the tenets of the bible. His book, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, led him to tend sheep in the Israeli desert, battle idolatry and worst of all, tell the absolute truth in all situations.
I’ve been tempted to try small-scale self-improvement projects but not, so far, to write about them. Every now and again, I have a ‘faults and flaws’ day. Faults are entrenched personality deficiencies like neuroticism or pessimism – of course, I don’t have these faults, but if I did happen to have them, they would be impossible to change. Flaws, however, are much more focused problems like being online too much or not putting the lid on the toothpaste. Again, not that these flaws are at all recognisable to me.
However, I’m thinking bigger than this for my next memoir. I don’t just want a touch-up job, like something you’d get at a shady panel beater; I want a complete engine rehaul, a new personality in 365 days. I just need to to think of the right experiment.