Thursday, January 17, 2008

Emotional Vivisection

Memoirs are difficult. Writing a memoir means cutting deeply into the layered tissues of your life and exposing what you’ve found there.

If it was just resurrecting moments and dispassionately rendering them on to the screen or the page, then it wouldn’t be a painful, exhilarating exercise. It would be dry and boring and unsellable.
A dry rendering of the facts of a life works in some arenas; memoir writing is not one of them.

I’ve got a hand-written journal I wrote over the course of a summer more than a decade ago. Events were fresher in my mind then than they are today so it’s a great resource. My readership was me and that made noting the private, painful moments easier.

A few years back I tried to do a memoir, but it was restricted to the odd moments of my life. For instance, I used to see a drawing of a scary clown on a wall in the barn and I remember clearly being three years old and watching a beautiful being draw it.
But I can’t do one without the other. I have to write about growing up with a mentally unbalanced, violent sibling.
The two sides of my life, violence in one world, beautiful beings looking after me in another, go together.
Both sides have to be cut into and examined for a proper emotional vivisection.
I’ve started. I wonder if I have the courage to see it through?

8 comments:

Crabby McSlacker said...

Sounds painful, but it might be healing as well--and great art sometimes comes from deep pain.

Good luck with it; hope you're able to see it through.

the Bag Lady said...

Courage is something you have always had loads of, so I'm sure you'll be able to see it through!

Leah J.Utas said...

I hope so, Crabby.

Thanks, dfBag Lady. Guess we'll see.

Hilary said...

I suspect that you do.. and most likely the support. Rooting for you!

Leah J.Utas said...

Thanks for your support, Hilary.

Reb said...

I agree, I think you are strong enough to get through it and will find healing at the end of your journey.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

df Leah,

I see you as an independant thinker, brave and strong. Whatever this memoir is supposed to be for you, that is what it will be.

Terrie

Leah J.Utas said...

dfTerrie - What a wonderful thing to say. Thank you so much.