Is Memoir An Indulgence?

I wrote my reply to the commenter who said, “Memoir is a challenging genre.” I agreed wholeheartedly and added my thought that memoir is an indulgence. To indulge means to yield or to gratify a desire. Its connotation often indicates participating in an activity that isn’t necessarily good for you but is pleasurable. You indulge in eating chocolate or drinking wine or even in gossiping. You do it because you want to, not because it’s good for you.

I think memoir writers like me indulge in some way. Or, perhaps I should speak only for me. I indulged; I satisfied my urge to tell the story of my extended family as I experienced it. Perhaps telling the story wasn’t a good thing, it hurts some of the family members to have this truth out there in the world. But it felt good.

So, did I indulge? I think so. Do all memoirists do so? What do you think?


10 thoughts on “Is Memoir An Indulgence?

  1. I admire those of you who write memoirs, because my memory isn’t good enough to ever do so! I suppose I could conjure snippets here and there, but the little things evade me. Sounds like yours ruffled some feathers. I imagine any good memoir would. šŸ™‚

    Thanks for visiting my site. Much appreciated!

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  2. Hmm. I don’t know if all memoirs are an indulgence. I know I’m writing because it’s healing. I try to only speak truth and a lot of people don’t like truth being spoken. I have decided that if someone wanted me to tell a different story, then perhaps they should have made different decisions.

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    1. I love the way you put it. Been thinking about this a great deal. I did tell only the truth and yes the people involved aren’t happy about it. (See my prior post about my reviews on Amazon!) But you are so right. If they didn’t want that truth known, they should have made different decisions in the first place. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I too wrote this memoir to heal and for the most part I have. I wish the same for you.


    1. Yes, you are right. Memoirs are truth and it’s not always pretty. But I wrote mine, in part to help others struggling with family issues and I sincerely hope it does. Thanks for taking the time to consider and voice your opinion. It’s helpful to know people understand.


  3. I like your idea that memoirs are an indulgence. The word I’ve always used for my own memoir-like posts is “therapy,” but perhaps “indulgence” is a better choice. I’m kind of torn when thinking back on the things I’ve written about my family. Did it help me to write those things? Sometimes I felt that it did — especially during the writing process — but once those stories were finished and out there for public view, the doubts and the guilt began creeping in, and I can’t say for certain that I’m any better off than before. In that regard, I must conclude that my therapy didn’t work and that it was more of an indulgence, a sampling of the chocolate, as you say, that might have been better left wrapped in foil on a high shelf.


  4. While I was writing the memoir it did feel therapeutic. But after publishing it and having some friends say, “I know why you wrote it but I’d like to understand why you wanted to publish it,” I had to look deeper into my reasons and that’s when I developed the indulgence theory. Been a few days since I wrote that, though and I’m thinking while it may be indulgence, does that make it so wrong? Chocolate can be good for the heart; it’s all about the antioxidants. But, writing about family should be its own genre. I might have to coin a term. If you have any ideas (because you, sir, are a damn fine writer, I’ve been addicted to your blog for a few days now), let me know.

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