The Memoir

I am rewriting the beginning of the memoir. I think I mentioned that a while ago. The drafting went like a field afire after a summer drought, but despite the length (10,000 plus words) it was bones only. After letting Rob read it, I am fleshing it out. Slowly. Not that the words come slowly but the memories are far clearer than they have ever been and they compete viciously with the emotions that saturate them. The word count will easily have doubled by the time I am finished – next week sometime with luck – and then I have to meld it to the original.

I am excited about it. Really. Because it finally looks and sounds the way I have envisioned it all along. But, the scope sometimes pulls me up short. Feelings are going to be a bit raw when people read about incidents that went on that I never shared or when they discover my true feelings concerning events that involved them. I have wrestled with this from the moment I decided I would write about my experience and me and Rob. I still haven’t worked it out completely.

Memoir is a subjective form of storytelling. And it is the telling of a story. The story happens to be true, but it’s a limited viewpoint and one that is faulty unless the author happens to be omniscient and even the bible lacks the all knowing third person.

One thing I noticed as I have gone about the business of living these last six years is that nearly everyone I had contact with had no problem foisting their interpretation of circumstances on me and expecting me to agree with them regardless of the veracity, so I have decided to proceed and write it the way I recall it and show how I felt. It might not match up with others’ recollections. So be it. The beauty about memoir is that everyone has a life and they are welcome to write about it from their own point of view. As long as one isn’t trying to settle scores or be cruel, and recognizes that it may result in some “splaining”, memoir is a good way to maintain the tradition of personal/family oral histories that help us to know and understand one another.

Six years. It was six years this past summer. Even digging up the events that led to Will’s being diagnosed weren’t enough to bridge that span for me entirely. He is so long gone, and the person I was disappeared along with him. The interesting thing? I don’t miss her.

6 responses to “The Memoir

  1. After reading this post, I know I will look forward to reading your book. It’s so true about the subjective in memoir, and conflicts with the views of others. All the best as your work winds to a close.

  2. That’s a great rate of progress. It takes time to work out how to treat all the tricky stuff. Which covers just about all of it, of course… Wishing you all the best with your writing.

  3. I ran into the same issues when writing my memoir and in some cases I found myself becoming more sympathetic to the people I was angry with as I wrote. But I guarantee that not everyone will be happy. One of the people in my book (I will not name names) was very unhappy with how I depicted them, which surprised me because I thought they were depicted in a more sympathetic way than most of the others. What I did learn though, is that to write a good memoir, you have to be as authentic as possible and you have to find those universal truths, those things that everyone can relate to even though they happened to you.

    Bravo for tackling this. I look forward to reading it.

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