Superlatives–another approach to memoir

Anyone who’s taken a creative writing course has likely been assigned the task of relating their most embarrassing moment. For the non-writers, the opportunity probably occurred during an evening with friends or at a younger age, at a sleepover or maybe as part of a Awkward Easter narrowcampfire gathering. Back in the Stoned Age we called such confabs “bull sessions.” Quaint, no?

The thing is, for just about everyone who’s ever lived, figuring out which of your life’s embarrassing moments ranked as the “worst” (“most”?) could be damned tricky. I can recall a double handful of events which left me looking, feeling, or acting hopelessly stupid. Should I catalog them all? Maybe go for the Top Ten? Hm.

Embarrassment isn’t normally what most folks have in mind when discussing “superlatives.” But let’s include it anyway. Chances are, a number of related issues made those particular episodes especially embarrassing. Maybe if we take the time to examine them, we’ll find other material to include in our life story.

The same would certainly apply to many of the usual “superlatives”:

  • Happiest — This ought to be the category with the most entries, and choosing just one would be a terrible waste. Revel in the good times!
  • Saddest — If only this state occurred in reverse proportion to happiness, we’d all be better off. Alas, that usually isn’t the way the world works. Might as well cover the lows as well as the highs.Guy scared by UFO in the night
  • Strangest — Here’s a category that could take some memoirs straight off the rails, and unless your life reads like a mystery or an urban fantasy, you may not have much to work with here. But don’t dismiss the category too quickly. There’s likely some good stuff lurking just beneath the surface of your “easy” memories. Dig a little to find it.
  • Scariest — Although this might overlap the “Strange” category a bit, it’s worth thinking about. I’m guessing there were a multitude of frights in your life. There were in mine!
  • Proudest — C’mon, your memory bank ought to be chock-a-block full with this one –whether the pride is for yourself, your significant other, your kids, your organization, or that time you lost 20 pounds and kept it off!
  • Most confusing — Overcoming confusion about something that’s immensely personal can have life-changing implications. It could be confusion over one’s ultimate goals, life direction, sexual orientation, or something else equally profound. These should never be the hard ones to define.

go wrongCertainly, there are other “superlatives” one might include. I suspect there are people running around loose for whom the list of “really stupid things I’ve done” would would fill an entire volume.

I’m open to suggestions on other “superlatives” a good memoir ought to contain. If you’ve got some, pass ’em along in the comment section below.

–Josh

About joshlangston

Grateful and well-loved husband, happy grandparent, novelist, editor, and teacher. My life plate is full, and I couldn't be happier. Anything else I might add would be anticlimactic. Cheers!
This entry was posted in Memoir, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Superlatives–another approach to memoir

  1. joshlangston says:

    Excellent! In fact, I could probably squeeze a blog post from these two alone. Thank you, Jane!

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