Amanda Miska, Editor-in-Chief
I started my writing life crafting memoir--before I had anything interesting to say about myself, I was very interested in talking about myself. When we were given the assignment to write a book in elementary school, I wrote about a family vacation. I wrote about my life when it was happy (which at the time was more exciting to me than unhappiness), before I'd experienced much pain. Before I'd made bad decisions or became confused about which decisions were bad or if any decision was really all bad.
I re-started my writing life in an MFA Program declaring myself a fiction writer. I still wrote stories about myself, only they were veiled in the genre I named them. I imagined a lot of things too, but at the emotional core of every story, I was trying to tell my life. Only I was too afraid to let anyone think this was my life or what I did or how I thought or felt (spoiler alert: it was obvious, Miska). Or: I was afraid my life was too boring or stupid for anyone else to care about it.
I can't say exactly what made me brave enough to write and submit a piece of memoir (that I actually called memoir): maybe it was the admiration I had for so many amazing memoir writers I'd been reading, or maybe it was the support and encouragement of the people close to me, or maybe it was that I finally felt like I knew myself and owned my life and all the things that had happened to me. My first published piece of memoir was scary and exhilarating, and I couldn't stop. I still write fiction (still close to the bone, but not always directly my bones), but I have found a different power in writing memoir.
Our Livershot Memoir Contest garnered 11 amazing finalists (the submissions were so good that I couldn't even narrow to a top 10), and they all happened to be from women. Every story is revelatory--not just because of what happened, but because of how each writer explores what happened.
I used to think memoir had to be about trauma (and sometimes it is) or drama (and sometimes it is), but sometimes, memoir is a conversation that alters our own thinking, or a moment that to anyone else would be mundane, but to us, expands our Universe. The power of memoir is the me: we all have stories to tell, and much of the beauty and bravery come from the way we tell them.
The writers in this issue tell their stories beautifully. Because of stories like these, I am moved and encouraged and emboldened to keep telling mine. I hope you will be too.