You will be focusing on one central question as you write this personal memoir:
● How have your experiences as part of different communities (racial, socio-economic, gender, sexuality, neighborhood, status, linguistic, ability, etc.) impacted your health and access to health care?
Below you will find some pre-writing prompts to help you unpack your experiences. Feel free to use any of the prompts that speak to you to generate notes that you might choose to further develop as you draft your memoir.
● What communities do you identify with? How do you know you are a part of these groups?
● Think back as far as you can to the present. What kinds of experiences has your community or communities had with their health and access to health care? Were any avoidable or unfair? How so?
● What messages did you grow up hearing about health and health care, either directly or indirectly? Where did you hear them? How do you think these messages impacted your health?
● What are specific ways you would like to improve your community’s ability to lead a healthy life? What is your vision for what a healthy community looks like?
Personal Memoir Format
A personal memoir is not an entire life story, but a story of selected moments or scenes from your life, shaped by a theme, and driven by an overarching question.
Memoirs have a beginning, middle, and end, but they don’t have to be told in chronological order. For example, you might choose to begin your story right now, in your second semester of college, and then share past experiences as flashbacks to tell the story of your community’s health and how it has changed over time. Or you might use different parts of your identity to structure your story.
Memoirs are told from the writer’s perspective, so feel free to use “I”, get creative and let the reader hear your true voice.
Reading a memoir should be like watching a movie for the reader. Use vivid, specific details to make that happen. What colors, smells, sounds, tastes, and textures can you describe to bring each scene to life? Feel free to include dialogue and imagery to help give the reader a good sense of the main people in your story.
The conclusion of your memoir should leave readers clear on how the selected moments you shared are significant to your life and health today within your “larger universe.” Whether you state the significance explicitly or not, the reader should know and feel what you want them to by the end.
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