Last year I learned a simple way to express the vital truth written below: every good piece of writing is about the thing, and then it’s about the other thing. There’s the story on the surface, and the deeper, more universal story below. My students have heard it a million times: What is this story REALLY ABOUT?
One of the most common sentiments of beginning memoir writers is, “Who’ll be interested in MY story? I’m not famous or interesting.” That was the attitude of Grace in Step 1, presenting what she thought was a boring, mundane saga of adoption, which I heard years ago and have never forgotten. Think of high school teacher Frank McCourt, who decided to write a memoir of his Irish childhood. He didn’t know if his story would interest anyone, but he had a moving tale and told it well, with detail, dialogue, humour, and skill—and also, considering what a painful story it was, with great compassion for his hapless parents. Angela’s Ashes became a huge bestseller (suggestion—read it).
from wayson choy’s notebook