The title of this post is a quote from Brian Doyle, editor of Portland Magazine. I heard him speak at Festival of Faith & Writing in April 2012. I wrote down this comment because it struck me as expansive enough to fit memoir-writing and memoir-reading: A story is a country where we can both stand for a while.
When you read my memoir, you were willing to stand in my country for a long while — for the span of 300 pages — and I am so grateful! Maybe the acreage seemed large — or maybe it cramped you a bit. Maybe the landscape seemed familiar — or maybe it was strange and terrifying. Still, you managed to be in that new country with me, and we’ve both been changed because of it. It took time and effort to be there together. I’m still getting used to the idea that so many people — perfect strangers! — have inhabited the country of my life.
Here’s another quote that fits memoir-readers: You can no longer hate someone once you know their story. I don’t know who said that first, but isn’t it God’s truth? Every time we enter into someone’s story, we learn to love humans a little bit better. Our lens shifts. Our perspective enlarges. Our souls widen.
This is why I’m a sucker for back stories. I watch Orange is the New Black so I can fall in love with the most unlikely of characters. You too? I love living more lives than just my own. I love getting beyond my own skin. In my better moments, I even believe that inhabiting other people’s stories helps me see the world with the eyes of Christ.
What do YOU love about reading (and writing) memoir?