There are those who write “memoir” to find truth, to heal, to re-evaluate their situations, their lives. To me, that’s not memoir. It’s therapy. And there is nothing wrong with this. It’s a larger form of journal writing. Some write “memoir” to document a live, to have something for their children to read. They may not be looking for publication, just affirmation. And again, this writing also has value.
But memoir that is publishable is bigger than the writer, it resonates some greater truth, it uses the crafts of fiction (arc, character, dialogue) to offer larger themes tucked in between the lines of a personal story. It must have relevance to others lives. It does not have to be monumental (I biked across Asia) or dysfunctional (my family was cray) or about a horrible disease or incident (although these can be interesting), it just has to shed a light on the human condition, not just the writer’s condition.
I love good memoir. It is the soul of writing. Ask Thoreau and Proust and so many others. And remember:
“An unexamined life is not worth living.” — Plato.