What is a thematic memoir?

Under this heading, I will discuss the possibility of writing the memoir thematically.

I see two practical possibilities. Either in terms of an overarching theme (motif) for the chronological account, or organizing the memoir thematically instead of chronologically.



Overarching theme

On the one hand, I’m investigating the possibility to summarize the myriads of episodes, events, actions, feelings and memories of my life into an overarching theme, for example ‘a life in opposition’ or ‘in search of recognition’, or whatever topic I will be able to reconstruct as a recurrent motif. I imagine that such a theme might came upon me one day as a single powerful word or one-liner, almost as an epiphany. (Or maybe this will never happen to me.)

The overarching motif is a general idea that gives the narrative or chronological description coherence and gives me a feeling of having a clear identity — “this is what I am”, “that’s the truth about me”. Such a thematic memoir can very well be written chronologically, with chapters spanning my whole life. 


Structuring the memoir thematically

On the other hand, I’m also playing with the idea of taking the consequence of the fact that I’m beginning to discern a number of less overarching themes and motifs in my life, such as aesthetic preferences, political and religious ideas, emotional reactions, etc.

Hence, I’m playing with the idea of organizing the memoir text thematically instead of chronologically.

Some of these themes will be outlined here → (forthcoming)


Example: my introvert personality

After taking a few online psychological tests, I become convinced that I have a pretty introverted personality. I have learnt to hide it, however, and sometimes behave as if I were an extrovert:

I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world. I often prefer doing things alone or with one or two people I feel comfortable with. I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing when I decide to act. Ideas are almost solid things for me. Sometimes I like the idea of something better than the real thing (quoted from here).

This is probably why I prefer to continue my life-long habit of reading, thinking and writing—now about my life course, and about autobiography, memory, self-therapy, and graceful ageing—instead of just doing all thosefun extroverted activites that senior citizens are supposed to do together.