Several weeks ago, I was driving somewhere and as I’m wont to do, was listening to NPR, and heard an interview with author Mary Karr. Karr is noted as the mother of the genre of memoir, having penned “Liar’s Club.” She teaches a very popular course on memoir at Syracuse University, and her latest book, “The Art of Memoir,” was released in September. It is a great resource guide for those contemplating writing their own memoir. Which I am doing.
Over the years, in addition to writing personal blogs, scribbling in journals and other things, I’ve also written about some life experiences here and there. A couple of years ago, I imported the contents of an old Wordpress blog and began to recreate it, with the eventual hope of writing my story. Over the course of the past several weeks, I’ve finally started to do, opening up a new file in Scrivener and beginning to write a memoir. It’s not easy.
I recently tweeted that writing one’s memoir is akin to cutting, except it’s your emotions cut and words left like blood on the pages. It forces you to look back inward, into yourself and all those secret little rooms that you thought were safely locked and inaccessible, only now you’re deliberately picking the lock to get inside. Writing a memoir, at least for me, is an exercise in pure masochism, in as much as the events are painful themselves as in trying to remember them in detail. Weddings, births, death, bankruptcy, selfishness, sacrifice, transition, divorce, family loss, anger, grief, loneliness… more seeming failure than any success.
But I plod onward, putting into words the feelings that had escaped me for most of my life, emotions that now wash over me daily as the lunar phases influence the tides. Ebbs, flows, surges… I look for successes, they seem non-existent… to me. In the end, however, I think there’s a story to be told, that needs telling if only for myself, if only perhaps save my soul. For all those who left over the years. For answers.