As much as I love writing fiction, I haven’t been wanting to write it lately. The idea of making things up doesn’t appeal to me as much as divulging the unvarnished truth. So, I’ve been working on a memoir project. This, it should be noted, has its own complications.
As I try to capture my past through the lens of creative nonfiction, I find myself wrestling with the truth. Don’t get me wrong. I like excavating, which is what I consider memoir writing to be. I dig up buried things – some treasures, others junk – dust it off, examine it, and attempt to figure out whether or not it has a place within my larger narrative. But what I don’t enjoy are the moments when I realize that there are things about myself that, despite all the work I’ve done to change, remain fundamentally unchanged.
What the hell? How can I still be making the same mistakes I made in my teens and twenties? I’m thirty-five! I should have learned my lessons. And maybe I have. I don’t know. Memoir writing is certainly humbling (and, on occasion, humiliating).
One of the things that’s been helpful has been to look at old photographs. I’ve become enthralled by a few pictures of myself as a child that I’ve cut out, collaged together, put in a frame and set on my desk. Now, I can write with inner-child accompaniment. It helps quiet the voice of self-judgment and, as a result, the stories are coming. So many stories. Memories that rise unbidden and demand to be captured on the page.
I look forward to sharing them with you, just as the younger me has been sharing them with me.