Brand building through storytelling

Question of the day: why another Maynard family memoir?

Your mother and your sister both wrote memoirs. Now you’ve joined the family business with your own memoir, My Mother’s Daughter. Why did you choose to write another book about the Maynard family instead of an original story?

Rona Joyce FredelleFor years I cringed at the very idea of “joining the family business.” I figured that writing a memoir was the creative equivalent of ordering last in a restaurant and then murmuring, “I’ll have the same.”

I didn’t choose to write My Mother’s Daughter. It chose me. Looking back, I see that it hovered on the edge of my mind for a good 20 years or so. It called to me, softly at first. I would answer that call in a fleeting way, with a magazine piece about one of the themes (maternal guilt, alcoholic parents) that later came together in the book. I even wrote an article or two about my mother.

It’s no coincidence that I shifted my sights from writing to editing. No one in my family had ever run a magazine, and I reached the top job at Chatelaine, the most successful magazine in Canada. I thought I’d found my own place in the world.

That was an illusion, one that didn’t last long. The magazine was never mine; I just took care of it for a while. When I left, my goal was to find a project of my own. The memoir’s call grew louder, more insistent. Okay, I thought to myself. I give up.This book is going to sit in my path until I buckle down and write it.

I didn’t invent any characters to write My Mother’s Daughter, yet I did have to find a narrative arc in the jumble of memories that have tugged at me all my life. Then I had to interpret my own story and its hauntingly complicated characters. My Maynard family is not the same one my mother and my sister wrote about. We inhabited the same house for years, but the roles we played there and the perspectives we formed were profoundly, indelibly different. Of all the words I’ve written in my life, the words that form this book are most truly my own.

That’s because I didn’t choose to write this book. It chose me.


Posted by Rona

Leave a Reply

Stay up-to-date with Rona.

To see what’s on my mind these days, friend me on Facebook.

Miss my old site?

Visit the archive to find your favorite blog posts and Chatelaine editorials or browse my published articles. Sorry, I’m not blogging anymore.