writing memoir, take two

Writing the truth about one’s younger self is daunting. It has required rigorous self-examination, and the willingness to admit my weaknesses and flaws.

I kept a running list of scenes that I needed to tackle, so each day, when I sat down to write, I had a place to start. I’d pick a scene from that list that felt alive, or “hot,” and began typing.

The very process of considering an event, and parsing for just the right words to express my experience, often brought long-forgotten detail to the surface. I also spoke to people from that time and asked questions about what they remembered. I did not, however, contact my ex-husbands during the writing process. I felt the need to stay with my own experience–even though I knew it was one-sided. I didn’t have the gumption to exhume those painful failures with them again. It wasn’t the time.

When I first began writing about my life, mentors encouraged me to write without filtering–to “tell my whole truth.” I wrote for self-discovery about myself as a parent, partner, and human being. Now that the memoir is finished and approaching publication, I felt I must reach out to people included in the story to let them know I wrote about them. This included not only friends and two ex-husbands, but physicians as well.

I have no interest in blaming. What happened, happened–we all participated, and I know each of us handled ourselves as best as we could in that moment–even when that best looked like rage, betrayal, or weakness.

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1 Comment

Filed under writing process

One response to “writing memoir, take two

  1. How did your reaching out go? What was the reception? I imagine this is the hardest bit – to avoid undue hurt or defamation.

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