Sunday, April 22, 2012

Writing Memoir, Feeling Naked

Someone mentioned how "self-conscious" she felt as she began penning her memoir.  I told her that I think it's more like taking a swan dive off a cliff.  You feel naked. You hope you don't hit the rocks below.  You hope you slip into the water with barely a ripple.

People talk about writing memoir "primarily for their family because they deserve the best quality." 

Fear is a terrible thing.  It cripples a person.  I wonder if Matthew, Mark, Luke and John worried about offending when they wrote their "memoirs"?  Did they worry what their parents might think when they learned their sons had given up everything to follow a fisherman and self-proclaimed messiah? 

Did Hemingway couch his stories in "fiction" because it was easier that way?  Was he worried his mother might learn he had become infatuated with an older woman, a nurse named "Agnes"?

Another person suggested that the best way to get  started on writing memoir is to pretend  "you are talking to an old friend."  Good.  As long as the "old friend" is you.

Another suggested memoir is best told by "someone who has a reputation for good conversation and a wealth of anecdotes around the dinner table."

Are you Larry David writing another "Curb Your Enthusiasm" episode?

As writers we second-guess ourselves.  We ask: "Why would anyone want to read my story?   Who am I?"

 Some answer their own question.  "Nobody."

This resonates with fear.  If you become "somebody," then others might have to pay attention. When they pay attention, you have to pay attention too.

In the silence of the millions, how many have had the courage to write?  Are you ready and willing to dive naked off that cliff?

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