[300] Writing a memoir. Need feedback

Thanks for posting. There are two different things I want to write to you about this and they are completely opposite to each other.

Me talking to Author On one hand, I read this and understand. However, you could have written it like this: G1P0 at 31.6, cx 2 cm-50% POI. From that alone I would have an emotional response and feel things. Assuming no complications because of the pandemic directly (e.g. mom positive at birth), latching can be really difficult. Movies and art make it out like it is the most natural thing in the world. Maybe a wet nurse who has done 500 kids has no problems, but a first time mother and a first time baby (because that’s the key right, it is the baby’s first time learning anything). I find the different holds work better with different kids and sidedness definitely plays a role as well. Early separation and isolation (something because of the pandemic) definitely affects production and other bio-mechanical shenanigans. To add to this absurdity, society seems fit to blame the mom and not the difficulty of latch/feed. There is also a whole industry pushing formula which I do not want to address if one is “better or worse” than the other, but will address that one costs a whole lot more and clean water is not always the easiest thing to come upon.

These are very stressful times where “family” (however that is defined on the individual level) is greatly needed and frankly, zoom FaceTime does not help with those initial few months and sleep regressions.

I am aware and sorry. I don’t know if that does anything for you, but I think you need to know, others have been there and it is difficult. It is exhausting.

Me talking to Texts This material being covered is of a very personal nature, but read extremely muted and clinical. As a memoir, the emotional engagement is not happening in part because the words and style are more of a laundry list/to-do list of events telling what has happened. As a rough draft, this may work as a outlining of thoughts and progression, but it does not establish the bond of immersing the reader into the memoir’s story.

Hook This hook works only because of outside information and knowledge, which is fine, but because it reads clinical, we have no emotional connection.

We go 114 words with no paragraph breaks until:

This experience turned out to be extremely isolating. I was on bed rest for a week or more and wasn’t allowed to leave my room until almost 2 weeks later. It’s difficult to describe the psychological effects of four walls and no escape.

This is the first mention of any sort of emotions and it is in the context of being filtered through a whole lot and as a digression. Instead of “I was alone in bed for almost two weeks unable to leave. Doctors told me any unnecessary movement may harm my daughter’s chances at life. They had me so scared I counted the steps I took to the bathroom.” Yada yada...something like that where the reader is brought more directly into “how” you felt isolated.

I did not want to write it in the example, but I know someone who had an oddly placed placenta that covered her internal os. Doctors kept telling her to lay in bed or else she would kill her son. They used kill not harm not statistical chances. She was a wreck and she had family in the room bringing her cups of water. She could see her husband’s smile and hold her mother’s hand. These are examples of showing that isolation. I wanted to see someone’s smile. I wanted someone to help me up who did not need to be gowned in PPE and buzzed.

I was pushing for 5 hours and suffered a tear that took two hours to sew.

This is fairly common FYI. I personally think pelvic floor PT exercises should be part of Mother/Baby Unit’s discharge work up.

I also suffered horrible back labor, which only added to the trauma of the birth.

Same here. This is not really adding to the story as written as Subject “I” Verb Trauma listing. Furthermore, since it is not really beyond the normal experience for a sizable population, it will distance those who have been there into that stupid one-up crap comparing labor times and stitches needed as well as those who are disengaged by the lack of the immersive voice that is not happening here. Maybe don’t describe how the tearing felt or how your back seized in the forced position for how you and your daughter latched/bottle fed, but give something that reads beyond “I was X and Y. It made Z hard.” Memoirs work best when bring the reader into someone else’s world. This almost reads like a book report of the maternal-neonate process.


Regimen. Regimen is a prescribed course of action usually under medical advice. Regiment is a permanent standing army. Also, following a strict regimen with feedings really will work wonders for establishing baby sleep routine habits, which in turn helps with mom sleep time availability.

Due to this lack of sleep, and associated trauma, I suffered from post partum psychosis and was nearly hospitalized again.

Just pointing out how this reads like a book report. Also, I personally find it odd given all of the hormonal shifts, especially those triggered from an early dilation, that your list here does not include or referencing the signaling. There is regardless of what folks say a whole lot of neurochemical shenanigans triggering a lot of mechanical movements through a complex pathway of positive and negative feedbacks. This seems to undermine the chemical/hormonal nature that is completely beyond the control of the clinician or mom. IDK. It seemed really weird to not mention the chemical stuff especially since no mention is given to if there was an assistance (like pitosin to aid or aid with the delivery of the placenta.

Closing This is a good rough outline for starting to lay out thoughts for a memoir. It hits the beats you presumably find important enough to want to share, but at this current state does not really help immerse the reader. This is telling with the teller reading like an iceberg completely submerged. We only see the tip. That is fine as a technique in some fiction, but in a memoir within a first person POV, that reads blocking of emotional weight. My advice is to take this as an outline and think why this point or line is important to you. What are you wanting your reader to feel/understand? Then think about how you felt that way. Was there a specific type of moment that fueled it? Share it.

On the other hand, please do know you are not alone and this is a story that folks need to know about.

Also, also, realize that I am just a random stranger and my take is not going to be others. I hope this helps, but take anything I say about writing with a grain of salt.

/r/DestructiveReaders Thread