“…It almost killed me.” -Harry Crews, author of A Childhood: The Biography of a Place
Both shocking and understandable if you write memoir, right?
Have you ever felt gutted when writing your stories? The natural reaction to pain is avoidance. Quite often we flinch and move away from that hot center of a story, afraid we’ll get burned or at least singed by it.
But that red hot spot is where the heart of story lies.
I’ve taken a break from the red hot center that memoir is, but recently I got back on the horse, to severely mangle some metaphors… though I like this image now of riding a flaming Arabian for all I’m worth. I will not go down in flames. I will rise from the ashes. These are the affirmations I think of as I free flow write… on this hobby horse…
Free flow write with me. If we get too close to the core and you feel yourself heating up to a dangerous degree, you can always jump ship, or decide to dive deep. Nothing like a deep dive into a cool pool to extinguish the pain of a good story. You might come up with some lovely pieces.
And chances are you won’t die. Harry Crews didn’t die over writing his memoir. He wanted to understand his story so he could stop thinking about it. Memoir didn’t quite do that for him either, nor did it purge the story out of him.
So what does memoir do for us?
It lends us a space to set down our stories, the ones that made us, and even the ones that we might make up; memoir is a bit like myth making. Myths are stories of origin, real and imagined, because what is real anyway? No one would tell our story quite the same way we will; everyone has a different take on what happened and what it all means. Memoir is your chance to tell your story from your point of view.
I wouldn’t miss that chance for the world.
Come along- Join me for a month of short memoir prompts during the month of May. Write a few words, on the days you can, of your story. Start with where you came from.
Harry Crews begins, “My first memory is of a time ten years before I was born…”
Quotes are from a recent book review of The Bard of Bacon County by Casey Cep