Thursday, October 21, 2010

Memoira Interruptus

As reflected in my spotty writing at this blog, I interrupted work on my memoir this past year and opted to funnel my writing in other directions.

These are the reasons I wish I could give you for turning my back on the examination of my own life:
  1. I finally got life all figured out.
  2. Because I moved from the farm I never thought about Ron, or what happened there, again.
  3. Life in Doylestown has been a non-stop string of welcome parades, tea parties with the rich and famous, and HGTV interviews.
  4. Against all economic odds, my editing business took off at such a rate I'm still adjusting to the G forces.
  5. Oprah called me and said that despite the fact my novels haven't yet been published, she read my mind, loved my ideas, and booked me for her show...and the rest is history.
Okay, okay, by number 5 I know you realized the entire list is fantasy. I'm still clueless; while at the lake this year I truly missed Ron for the first time; my life in Doylestown has felt like a constant string of attendance at book signings—for my friends' books; my editing business was as affected by the economy as the next person's, leaving plenty of time for writing; and I've continued to market my novel because I know darned well you can't possibly get published if you leave your book in the closet.

So what did cause me to abandon the memoir project, especially after going so far as type all the notes into a computer document and play with several different versions of its structure?

Surface reasons: I didn't want to expose others while sharing my truth. I didn't know the best way to structure the story. Agents told me the story would be easier to sell if I novelized it, because I could make it better. This last split into further problems: a) Life is life, and since I'm not God I can't really figure out how to improve on it and still suss out its truth; and b) I haven't found a novel all that easy to sell so I don't know what the hell they're talking about.

A deeper reason: That constant voice in my head, saying, Why do you think anyone wants to read about you? What can I say? Maybe I used up all my courage in the aftermath of the suicide: the voice won out.

The activities I engaged in instead may have been diversions, but they still required risk and perseverance: I continued fine-tuning and marketing my novel and renamed it yet again. I got situated in my new community and started a new writing group. After a particularly vivid dream suggested a viable story arc I began a young adult novel. I supported the goals of my fellow writers by chairing one writers conference, for which I maintained a biweekly blog, and contributed time to the smooth running of another. I consider all of that meaningful work. My point is I made different choices—choices that didn't seem relevant to the theme of this blog.

Writing about it now, I wonder if there might have been one more factor putting off the memoir. Did you see that little clause up in the third paragraph: "while at the lake this year I truly missed Ron for the first time"? It sure caught my attention. To avoid miring my memoir with angry rant, I required the distance of time and perspective. Maybe I just wasn't ready yet.

Now, ready or not, here I come. When I showed up to restart this blog in my last post I asked if the universe was listening. It was an answer more than a question: the universe asked the question of me first. In my next post, I'll share the incident that ended my waffling and returned me to the task of writing my memoir in earnest.


Jerry Waxler said...

Hi Kathryn,

There is a lot of good self-examination here. Thanks for letting us inside the process of why not to write a memoir. One point that you may be skipping (or perhaps it's shown all the way through in various clauses) is that this is a little like someone explaining why they didn't climb Mt. Everest. It's a long climb, and lots of good reasons to go have lunch. (Sorry for the obscure reference to Miss Piggy.) So yes, take your time. Write other books. Move. Lead great area writing events. And when you feel pressured by that weird compulsion that has driven mountain climbers since the beginning of time, aim again for the peak.

Memory Writers Network

Kathryn Craft said...

No problem, Jerry, I love going out to lunch! Your comment is downright poetic, thanks.