There appears to be a belief among authors that of course we enjoy our writing, or else, why would we bother writing anything? And for most writers, that assumption is probably broadly true, though I suspect many of us also have procrastination down to a fine art. But when I began writing, it soon became obvious that doing so was testing my resolve almost to breaking point.
Though memoir reads like fiction, and enjoys elements of fiction, we may not get much enjoyment from writing our life stories.
Interestingly, while writing my memoir, I felt as if I was inhabiting a parallel universe. Writing about something that happened when I was, say, fourteen years old, other forgotten parts of that time would come vividly to mind, prompted, I am sure, by my sojourn with a particular set of recollections. These felt so sharp, as if they happened yesterday, which realisation has given me many occasions to wonder about the nature of time and memory.
Is everything we have ever thought, felt and believed stored in our minds, just awaiting recall; and, like a song learned fifty years ago, never forgotten? Why do our minds work that way, recalling sounds, conversations and scents decades after the event? What a massive repository of experiences our minds turn out to be.
Writing for me started as a compulsion, not at all enjoyable. But it had to be done, both to push against the boundaries of what I thought I knew, and testing my resolve to see how far I could push. Perhaps that was a bit reckless, but it was my version of the physical and emotional risks that we all have to take – the cat climbing the wall may fall to her death, but that doesn’t stop her trying to reach the window above – if we are going to take our personal leaps to the next stage and live life to the fullest.
Thanks for listening.