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A Story to Tell.

Posted by on May 10, 2010

It was a nice weekend, thank you.  How was yours?

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and along with the annual awesome Mother’s Day Mix and requisite listening tradition (this time we took our drive in the morning) I was the recipient of quiet naptime, homemade cards from the kids, and relative peace in the ranks.  And I didn’t have to cook, which as you know I don’t mind but it was nice to have a break anyway.  So all in all, I would call that a successful Mother’s Day.

With that formality aside, I set to the topic most burning to be discussed this morning.  A perfect storm has convened to make this a necessary subject of exploration, and I sincerely wish for feedback from my dear readers.

I need to write a memoir.

Okay, so as you know I write as if it were breathing…a thing I am required to do to survive.  As you also know, I am somewhat prone to exaggeration.  But this writing habit has only become a stronger tug at my heart in the past year and some since I began this blog.  It’s a bit like singing and/or making music to me…it’s just good for the well-being of my soul, and makes me feel as though my life is in proper balance.  Right now I feel I need it more than ever: Joe is about to begin his undergrad classes (tonight!) and our lives are about to get a bit crazy.  Four or five years of our lives are tied into this, and I’m completely in support of this course because it’s about time my brilliant husband showed the academic world what he’s made of, in exchange for a piece of parchment that will mean job opportunities in the future.  Which, in the meantime, means no job opportunities for me.  Which is okay, because I was only half-looking anyway.  My heart wants something else.

To write a memoir.

“So write it!’ you might be saying.  “Get on with it, woman!” you implore in the general direction of your computer screen.  But perhaps I should explain my hesitation.  I am afraid of the reactions my writing would cause in other people; people I love.

I’ve been reading a memoir lately entitled Not That Kind of Girl.  It’s a really interesting look at the life of a young woman…just a few years older than myself…raised in a conservative religious family and her college and young adult years.  It’s a wonderful, insightful read.  I’ve been devouring it, eager to see what happens next in her life of spirituality, relationships, and writing.  Add to this a viewing of Julie and Julia this weekend (I’d read that memoir almost two years ago) and…well, stick a fork in me.  I just know that this is something I have to do. 

I’ve been trying to write a heavily fictionalized version of some of the things I want to write about in a memoir, but it has been painfully awful to say the least.  Not going well.  Because what I really want to do is tell it like it actually happened; it’s at least as interesting (if not more so) than any story I could make up.  But I can’t help but wonder as I read these other memoirs (and watch the movies based upon them) what their loved ones thought about having that business out there.  There’s a scene in Julie and Julia where Julie, modern-day blogger and cook, is writing an entry and includes a line about the huge fight she’s just had with her husband, who had specifically spit out during their argument, “You’d better not put this on your blog!”  She writes it, reads it, then deletes it from her blog entry.  I delete things from my entries here all the time.  Self-editing is good for the well-being of one’s relationships.  But I feel that, if I ever do write this memoir, I want to tell the truth.  There may be things I leave out, but to tell the story well I have to put most of the nitty-gritty details in there.

Why do I feel like I need to do this?  First, I feel nudged…nay, shoved…to do so.  Second, bound tightly to the first, I think my story could help other people.  If my story ever gets out there, that is.  I should say right now that I don’t expect to be published, but I would pursue it and I feel it’s irresponsible of me to even begin this thing without considering the idea that my words, my story might be out there on the shelves.  Whether it’s on the shelves or not, I think it’s safe to say my parents will want to read it.  That alone makes me nervous…do I really want my dad to read about the things I did in college?  (I think it’s important to say, here, that it’s not bad and smutty, but I was not completely innocent either.)  Do I really want these people from my past to read my story and feel…well, whatever they would feel to see my perspective spelled out in black-and-white?  And most importantly, several of these people from my past are dead.  What about their living family members?  What if they were to find my book, read past the names-changed-to-protect-the-innocent, and be hurt by what they learn?  I lay awake half the night last night, worrying myself silly about all this.

With all that at stake, why would I consider it?  Because my focus…which would be my pattern of falling for gay guys, and all that ensues…is a topic I feel becomes more relevant by the day.  The more people become comfortable with their sexuality, and their coming-out process, the more common my experience will be for young women (or men).  I want to help them; I felt so adrift and completely without guidance when it was happening to me.  I would have loved to have read a book like the one I want to write.

So help me.  Advise me, if you will.  Especially if you’re one of my best-loved people…what would it feel like to read about my life and my predilection for gay men?

14 Responses to A Story to Tell.

  1. Charlie

    I really think it would be cathartic. Write it, and then decide what should be altered to protect the innocent.

    If all else fails, just remember the adage. “Ask for forgiveness, not permission.”

  2. Erica

    Falling for gay men? I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about! Ahem. Ok, maybe just a little…
    I want to write a book too! I’ve been fighting with myself too! Get out of my head! I don’t fancy myself as good a writer as you, but I feel compelled too. I’ve been struggling with my self-editing on my blog. It’s uncomfortable to put your whole self out there.

    I think you should do it. I think I should do it. Then we should become wildly rich… or wildly more comfortable at least. Then we can move to St. Kitts and raise our kids on the beach. Okay? Great! Let’s get started!

    Oh, wait. I just realized that us fair skinned folk would all burn in about 5 minutes on the beach. Clealy I haven’t thought this through.

    Just do it. Don’t wait another minute.

  3. Erica

    Oh dear. Grammatical errors galore in that comment. I’m obviously not ready!

  4. mattie

    Write it! Definitely inject humor though…keep it informative yet somewhat of a light read.

    OT…kind of… Have you read any of Jen Lancaster’s books? That woman can make real life job hunting (and other topics) HILARIOUS! You’ll have to overlook the occasional f-bomb, but WELL worth it. She is on her 5th book now, but the 2nd is my fave…Bright Lights, Big Ass: A Self-Indulgent, Surly, Ex-Sorority Girl’s Guide to Why it Often Sucks in the City, or Who are These Idiots and Why Do They All Live Next Door to Me?

    Crazy Linda…I think you would LOVE it as well!

  5. nell grey

    I agree with Charlie. I think the first thing to do is just to write, without worrying about what will or won’t be hurtful to other people. Provided you don’t write all of your first drafts online, no one has to see any of the initial versions of things. (All the good writers seem to burn or destroy a big portion of what they generate, so.) Then once you see a more complete set of stories out on the page, you’ll be able to know which stories are crucial to the structure of the whole and which might not be. If those that aren’t crucial could possibly be hurtful, then you can sacrifice them with no problem. If they are crucial to the story, then you will at least have it all in front of you as a guide to know what to do next: revise, amend, add, subtract, etc.

    Mostly I think if you put your good human heart out on paper there’s likely very little you could say that would cause major damage.

    (This book isn’t going to include a certain night filled with tornadoes and coin laundromats and a rat cage sitting by an open window? What did that guy say to us, with a violent shake of the umbrella, in the Cub Foods parking lot?)

  6. administrator

    Oh, yous guys…I love you all. Thank you so much for all the encouragement and advice.

    Of course you’re right…I must write it all down first, then see with what I’m working. I want to wind up with something heartfelt, funny, and real. I want to do it all justice. I want to do my feelings, and those to whom they were attached, justice.

    And Ms. Grey…as much as I’d love to include that story, it remains to be seen if it would add to the narrative. And the phrase you’re looking for? “I’m gonna HIT YOU!” Which would have been more frightening had he not been 187 years old.

  7. Boompa

    I just don’t want any references to tooting (see prev entry) when you are opening my life up to all those who might not realize I ever did that.

  8. Charlie

    I think there will be some editing I will need to do regarding any story set in Madison, Minnesota.

  9. Charlie

    Also, anything regarding the Nick-guy who used to work in Sundin Hall.

  10. Charlie

    Speaking of Sundin, I remember some comedian who performed at the start of sophomore year. I mean, I remember part of it.

  11. Charlie

    Was there some story with me in a dress? Or, a picture?

  12. Charlie

    Or the Bacchanal we had in New Hampshire?

    • administrator

      Well, now after all the teasers you’ve offered here, I feel like I sort of need to include all these things.

  13. Crazy Aunt Linda

    Just now reading this entry and it has reminded me that, when I threatened to write my memoirs, to be entitled:”It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time; the Gimlet Confessions” my Dad asked me to please wait till after he died. So maybe it’s time. Then, after the whole Cancer Fiasco I was supposed to write: “Nipples Cost Extra” but that hasn’t happened [yet] either. So…write it sweetie, and I will be very proud of you…again. Apparently I don’t write books, only titles so PLEASE can I help you with that!? Oh, and let me take some of the heat off in advance. Boompa does toot. And he also scritches his feet. I fart, drop the F-bomb, and am currently in BIG LUST with Adam Lambert.
    There now. Go. Write

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