Is memoir always about someone's deep and unconscious pain? \u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 No. No. And no. But some people do come to the process of writing to sort out life experience, and most people are less likely to do that when things are soaring than when they have hit a bump. Hence, the common revelations in a lot of personal writing of deep and unconscious pain. Memoir is not, however, therapy... \u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 Memoir is not, however, therapy\u2014although there are plenty of writers who segue from journaling for self-understanding into the belief that they are writing memoir. And while it\u2019s true that the insights and feelings recorded in such pages might contain a seed of a memoir, it is most likely that the writing is not memoir. \u00a0All good memoir contains authentic truths... \u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 All good memoir contains authentic truths about private experience and emotion. That\u2019s why we read it\u2014for the secrets. In these secrets, we find keys to our own locked doors. But all good memoir also does more than just reveal inner turmoil. \u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 Whether you are writing about traveling the globe, healing a broken heart, or planting a garden of heirloom tomatoes and the joy associated with that loving task, you can build a memoir around this central activity and the emotions, insights, and personal questioning the activity elicits in you. But you can also teach the reader new information and new ways to see the world through your experience. \u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 Anything you have done and felt passionately can be translated into prose with beauty of language and depth of meaning, but those memories will not necessarily be compelling memoir for today\u2019s marketplace if there isn\u2019t some trouble that develops in the tale, and this is where we encounter the bugaboo of deep and unconscious pain that can give memoir a bad reputation as the dumping ground for amorphous whining. Without conflict, there is no story. \u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 What I mean by trouble is conflict. Trouble is the heart of story. Without conflict, there is no story. Story is the action of characters caught up in conflict and the process of overcoming that conflict. \u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 In the current market, memoir is expected to present problems and show the narrator coming to terms with those problems. Quiet stories, as agents and editors will call them, about planting that garden of heirloom tomatoes and keeping rare species alive can be quite interesting, but unless such a narrative includes some trouble\u2014an unexpected blight that threatens the plants and the livelihood of the grower\u2014the story could be so quiet as to be unmarketable as a memoir. \u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 The fact is: most contemporary readers are drawn to stories where there are problems and solutions, the more flamboyant, the more appealing for some. No matter the genre, it is drama\u2014trouble, and what people do with that trouble\u2014that piques readers\u2019 interest and keeps them turning pages, and so with memoir, we have the revelation of private experiences full of trouble in the pursuit of transformation. \u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 If well written, this process of transforming personal trouble can translate into a universal experience for readers. Witness books like Wild, or Eat, Pray, Love, or farther back: Angela\u2019s Ashes and The Liars\u2019 Club. With memoir books like these, readers experience a convergence; they attain self-understanding through the personal revelations of the writer and that writer\u2019s coming to terms\u2014yes, with often deeply unconscious pain. That is why outsiders can be heard lamenting the form: Sheesh! Is that all it\u2019s about\u2014deep and unconscious pain? Memoir is always about someone\u2019s trouble and what they did with it. \u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 Well, no . . . but yes. Perhaps it would be more apt to say: Memoir is always about someone\u2019s trouble and what they did with it.