Tuesday, August 13, 2019

What's The Difference Between a Memoirs and a Memoir? And an Autobiography? But That's Just The Hook. There's Also Kimani. [Updated]

I follow  Kimani Okearah @theKimansta on Twitter.  He's a photographer for the Sacramento Kings.  Well, that's not exactly right.  He's a photographer for Vox News and he covers the Kings for them.  I follow a number of folks who experience life differently than I do just to keep tabs on worlds I don't know well.  Mostly there's basketball in his Tweets, but also stuff on race, and health, and things I'm not really sure what they are about.  But there's something sweet and decent about him. I've grown to like him.

It turns out one thing we have in common is an interest in film.  He's working on a documentary.  It's called 30 Year Memoirs of a Crack Baby.  He's the crack baby and he has, among other congenital health issues, a seriously problematic large intestine.

But as I read the title I wondered, why is it memoirs instead of memoir?  So I googled.

[UPDATE 8/15/19:  Kathy in KY commented that the boxes for Memoir and Autobiography had the same texts.  (I've corrected that.)  But then that leaves this post without a distinction between memoir and memoirs.  So here's one from the blog Memoir Mind  that seems to make sense:
"Writing about one's whole life is writing one's memoirs, plural. It's more akin to autobiography, in which you tell all about what happened, often with intense detail, the personal version of the kind of research a biographer would do if they were writing a life about you. Memoirs tend to be more informal than autobiography, but still have that life-encompassing feel. Most of the people who write them are well-known - that's how and why others would buy an entire book about their entire life, or multiple books about their entire life.
Memoir, on the other hand, the currently hot trend in writing and the topic of this blog, is focused on a particular time in one's life, or a theme or thread."
And, back to the original post, below is the bigger picture with the corrected illustration.]

The Author Learning Center explains the difference between a memoir, autobiography, and a biography.    And if you look closely in their summary of a memoir, the second bullet offers a brief note on the difference.

Text comes from The Author Learning Center 

Kimani is asking for a lot of money on GoFundMe, but films cost a lot to make.  He's an expert on the topic.  And since it's a memoirs, it will be a "1st person POV" and less "formal and objective" than a memoir. [And since it's a memoirs, it will be about his whole life, not just one time, theme, or thread.]

I'd urge you to go to his GoFundMe page.  Read it.  And if you weren't born to crack addicts and taken from your parents at 6 months and put into foster home and kicked out of that home as soon as you turned 18, you're probably had a lot more 'privileges' than Kimani has had.  So you could share some of your privilege by checking out his site.

And making a donation.  It doesn't have to be a lot.  $5 would do, but if you're going to go to all the trouble, you might consider making a larger contribution.

He hasn't had a contribution for a couple of days.  I think it's because people would rather look away.  But please, overcome that urge, and give him five minutes.  And when the movie is showing (at the Anchorage International Film Festival I hope), you'll know that you helped make it possible.

I'm not putting up his picture.  I want you to imagine what he looks like.  And then go check how well you conjured up his image.  I'm going to check how many people linked from this page to his GoFundMe page.    Yes, I can do that (and so all other websites.)


  1. I think the definition of memoir is missing from this post -- the "autobio" part got slipped into that box instead. Memoir is such a popular genre these days -- does anybody even try to write autobiography any more? Interesting thought.

  2. Thanks for catching that Kathy. I thought I'd play with text boxes to make the differences easier to see, but in that process I managed to make two boxes the same. So I've corrected the boxes AND added an quote on the differences between memoirs and memoir. Again, thanks.


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