Memoir Writing: When to Quit Writing

I have only been writing on my memoir for about a month or so, but at 25,000 words, I am having a difficult time extending this memoir any further.  I suppose I could extend some areas and add a bit of color to the tale, but even at that I am not sure that I can make 50,000 words at this time.

Writing a memoir, which is a story about a particular time in your own life can also be taxing for one’s mental health.  If that period of time was especially difficult, the reliving of events can be draining.

Ideally I would like to add some comedy here and there on an otherwise dreary, Dickensonian tale.  I suppose that I could challenge myself to find something comedic about this period of time and blend those incidents in with the more adverse ones.

When is a Memoir an Aimless Rant about Random Events in Ones’ Life

I have recently been reading memoirs and from the title of one called, “Writing God’s Obituary” by Anthony B. Pinn, and I noticed that this writer spends the majority of his time writing about how he was a preacher including tidbits from his childhood rather than focusing on his theme of how he became an atheist.

How does a writer avoid this?  I think that the theme has to be focused on ones’ mind and the writing has to stay within those parameters.  He could have for example have spoken not just about how he became a preacher, but what changed him.  How the seeds of that change became implanted in his head rather than fifty or sixty pages of needless blather about biographical material.

I am talking about his book so that I can remember to streamline and focus in my own memoir.  What makes my memoir about working at a big box store important? It was the fall from working as a teacher to working as a minimum wage worker that is important.  It is the humiliation and rage at this situation.  It is the strange and vapid glances from other workers, and the feeling of gloom and desperation.

To Fictionalize or Not to Fictionalize

I have decided that because my memoir involves the inner workings of a big box store I will fictionalize or partially fictionalize some of the characters.   Some of the characters I have decided to blend into others, and I have changed their names into very long odd Greek names so that no one could look them up in the phone book and find anything even close to what I wrote down.

Making some aspects of their personality into fiction gives me more freedom to write about how I was feeling at the time realizing of course that these people will never truly know who I am talking about.   I also do not want to get into a long defamation suit of any sort.