hard life

by erika wheat
(miami, fl)

Question: How would I compose an autobiography about a young girl's hard life?

Answer: Well, you would start by asking yourself a lot of probing questions. Your past is the raw material, but it's like a vein of ore. You must carefully work to extract the narrative from your memories. You would spend many months writing about the key experiences in your life that shaped you and led you to where you are today until you have a body of material to draw upon.

The challenge then is to find the story within that material. One person's life contains so much experience that you must carefully prune away whatever is not essential to the message, the wisdom, you are trying to convey through the story of your life.

You will have to spend a lot of time reflecting on your life in order to discover for yourself where the meaning lies before you can convey that meaning to others through the autobiography. It's a journey of discovery that you may find rewarding regardless whether you end up with a publishable manuscript.

Story theory can help you towards the end of the process by showing you how to present the material in a way that conveys the meaning. But bear in mind that structure is of less importance in biographical works. It's the unique details of the life that readers look for.

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