View Full Version : One Chain Broken so I can write

11-18-2008, 03:31 AM
I never felt any real reason for not starting my memoir. And yet I've hesitated in really beginning. I have had my share of false starts that never felt right. Or half-hearted attempts just because of the BIC rule.

But last week I received what I thought was a phone call from a much-beloved friend--his name showed up on my caller ID. I hadn't heard from him for a few years, but that didn't negate the close feelings we had for each other as friends.

It wasn't my friend calling, though. It was his father, going down the list from my friend's cellphone. Letting everyone who had not yet heard the news that my dear friend had died the week before in a scuba diving accident.

This person had been more than my friend--he was my mentor, my encourager, a brother (in spirit), and even a pain in the ass, sometimes! But always--he was someone in my corner, sometimes fighting for me when I wanted to throw in the towel.

I never realized until he died that almost everything I had written since I met him had been with the idea that someday, his eye would find it. He was my Secret Audience of One, the person I wrote to please. He always promised me that when(!) I have my first book signing, he was going to be the first one in line for that autograph. He told me many times that my story is important enough to be told on the printed page. He said this to me as a fellow writer and lover of stories, not as a way of blowing me off or saying what he thought I wanted to hear.

And so--besides the questions I always hoped I would get to ask him--I am left with only memories as mementos. I know that his parents did not ever really get to know this person the way I knew him; they knew him as only what he wasn't, to them. As if they were viewing him through some odd-shaped scope that gave them a view limited only to what they imagined he was, which was only a splinter of the whole.

In the past few weeks, though, I realized that I can either be overwhelmed by my grief or I can put it to use. That his death has given my memoir more of a mission that I could ever give it--that it's not just my story, but it's his story, too, partly. Because if I tried to tell before he died, could I be so honest in my telling of what was only his to tell, before?

I don't know that I could ever say or have said what I wanted to in my memoir if he hadn't died. I'll never know. But I am putting it to good use, to proper use, hopefully.

So I can finally say that I have started my memoir, about a time when I was lost in a blizzard inside my head--a man came along and threw me a rope. Sometimes I ran after it, other times I cursed it. There were times I imagine I had to have been pulled by it. And as I began to find the way out, this man had the good sense to remind me that he was just holding the rope that had been attached to God, all along.

My point being that it's surprising what can hold us back from saying what we need to say. And that current events can shape our outlooks of the past and give us a hook for them long after we'd think anything useful can happen to do that, now.

I'd welcome any comment or input regarding the idea.

11-18-2008, 04:05 PM
Wow, sorry for your loss, but glad you're inspired. Best of luck in completing your book!

11-18-2008, 11:30 PM
Just an idea that was sweeping through my head last night after talking with you in IRC. Instead of an actual straightforward "memoir/life story" a pastiche of sorts: your dreams interspersed with life incidents, some maybe that did not actually occur but might have, not necessarily in chronological order.

Kitty Pryde
11-18-2008, 11:55 PM
I'm sorry for your loss. I had a freakily similar event set me on the path to writing fiction, period. I had just moved into my first apartment 1000 miles from my family, the power wasn't turned on yet, and the bed had broken in the move so the mattress was on the floor, surrounded by boxes. I was unemployed and feeling pretty wretched about life in general. I received a call from a friend's father early in the morning. He had called me before, but I knew from his voice what he was going to tell me as soon as he said my name. My friend had died unexpectedly. She had been sick, but they hadn't bothered to tell anyone because they expected her to make a full recovery.

After about three months of crying at home, on the bus, at the bookstore, in the office, at the Safeway, etc., I came to the conclusion that I needed to create something of meaning for the world to remember the contributions she made in her life. I felt that I owed her so much more than that, but it felt like a place to start at least. (Okay, moving on because I am going to start crying in the office again...) The story that came directly from that thought is approaching its final draft now. Hopefully one day with lots more hard work it will see the light of day as a fun story that entertains and secretly teaches the reader positive life lessons! I write everything with her looking over my shoulder. I write the jokes to make her laugh, I write the scary bits to make her shiver, and I write the smarty bits to make her proud of me. I can completely empathize with your idea of loss giving you a "mission" of sorts. I wish you lots of luck and I hope you can find peace as you wrestle with your story and defining your friend's place in it.

aka Kitty Pryde

11-20-2008, 12:30 AM
Oh, wow, Schwebb and Kittie, what stories! My throat is constricted with sympathy with both of you as I write.

I'll bet nearly all of us have a friend like that, in our past or present -- the person we really write for. The one who turned us on, cheered us on, the one whose eyes we write for. I have several. The trail to mine is cold, and I'll never know when they are gone. I'm way, way overdue in paying tribute. Thanks for the nudge.

11-20-2008, 08:51 PM
Thanks Ritergal, Sarah, and Sky--

your words and encouragement mean a lot to me.

Sky, exactly what you are saying is what I'm going to try to do, maybe to start each chapter with a dream and connect it to what was happening to me at the time. It doesn't have to be chronological, really--I think the dreams will be a great mechanism for connecting the present in the memoir to what in my past the dream could be saying.

11-21-2008, 05:22 PM
Dreams are powerful in memoir. Linda Joy Meyers begins Don't Call Me Mother (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0972394753?ie=UTF8&tag=theheaandcrao-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0972394753) with a dream, and it drew me in like a magnet. She includes a few other dreams, and uses that initial dream as a metaphor that she returns to more than once.

Dreams are powerful for more than their imagery and metaphorical value. Nobody can ever, ever question the veracity of a dream. If you think rather generally, the word dream is a flexible word. It covers that sleep state where the mind goes roaming right along with hopes and aspirations. Then there is day dreaming. If your mind goes wandering off into the ether while you are writing, pondering the way you wish things had been or whatever, isn't that also a dream? So ... you dreamed it. For real. Write that dream if it's helpful, and identify it as such. It conveys your Inner Truth.

As I write, I'm looking at Scwebb's puppy laughing itself silly above me, like it is so delighted with this "secret" scam I'm urging you to indulge in. I love that puppy. And ... I think it also knows that reality is ephemeral, and there is precious little shared reality, so put your own out there. Use any tool it takes to tell your Truth.