I’m trying my hand at a memoir. It’s not as simple as it sounds on the surface: find something interesting in your life and write about it.
That’s the basis for it. It’s up to me to make it interesting, compelling, and worth the readers’ investment of time and money. It has to go beyond feeding my ego to serving the greater good. If nothing else I must fool myself into believing that notion.
We can whine about the events of our lives. Each of us has his or her share of glory and misery. It’s not what happens to us in life; it’s what we do with it.
Our choice is simple. We can stay back and be miserable sucking the life and joy from our friends and family as they console and cajole us or mine our life experiences for growth and change. I’ve known many people who choose the former. I understand that’s where they are in their growth, and they are learning something, but I prefer to avoid these energy vampires. They are bad for me.
That said, we all need a hug now and again and some assurance that we are loved and accepted. Memoirists dredge up a great deal of refuse when they mine their lives. We need our share of hugs and reassurance, and then some.
As I write more I remember more. One life scene leads to something else and I find myself slapping my forehead and shouting, “Yes. Yes. That’s right.”
I also have to step back from some of the memories and ask if it really needs to be written. So far the more painful the memory the more it must be put down in writing. Generally if they hurt they are important. They’ll be most interesting to readers, will do me the most good to set down in print, and are the truth of my life.
What would be the point of writing a memoir if I try to organize it as though I grew up in the Happy Fuzzy Bunny Universe? It wouldn’t sell and it if did no reader would believe it.
I never wanted to write about growing up with a mentally unstable, violent sibling, but it is the truth. I wanted only to write about the good odd things like seeing a clown drawn in grease pencil on the barn wall. It’s not really there, but I remember watching the lovely being draw it, and I remember clearly seeing it as I’d walk in the barn. It is also the truth.
The only way for me is to write about the violence and the oddness together. It can be believed or not as suits a reader’s comfort level.
As one of my guides told me told me during a meditation a few months ago, “Write the truth or not at all.”