MFA candidates at Vermont College of Fine Arts are required to write a critical thesis during the third semester of study. At first I said that I wanted to write about celebrity memoir, the critically maligned but lucrative arm of the memoir genre. In short, I wanted to know if any were good, and I wanted to know if the good ones had been ghostwritten. Obviously I was all pre-judgy.
But then I ran across writer Robin Hemley’s blog post about his recently published book Do-Over! Hemley called the book an immersion memoir, stating “To me, in ‘Immersion Memoir,’ a writer creates a kind of framework to actively engage in experience and memory.” Since that sounded like exactly what I was doing at the time—obsessively, even desperately, creating a framework of research and memory recovery therapy in order to actively seek out my own long-lost memory—I quickly attached myself and my work to the term. At the time, however, no clear definition of immersion memoir existed. My critical thesis was born when I decided that I would craft one.
The Writer’s Chronicle, magazine of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, just published my article based on my thesis. I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS. It’s a huge honor. I proudly showed my family at a breakfast of leftover pie the morning after Thanksgiving. A big moment in my writing life. Hemley is publishing a book on immersion writing next year, and he includes immersion memoir. I am, it probably goes without saying, eager to read it!