Life would have been easier…
Life would have been easier, certainly, if I had ever positively, finally, decided to give up all my ideas of writing “Trapped”, or indeed, of ever writing anything properly. I never did positively decide not to. The idea just kept creeping up on me until it was irresistible, so I guess memoir writers just have to get used to living dangerously…
And I can’t say that, though life would have been easier, it would have been more fun. I would have had plenty more time to worry whether I was doing the best I could, whether I should be writing and whether I was missing opportunities. I would probably have wilted away to almost nothing. But hey, what’s that, compared to the damage we could do, making the effort to write and perhaps, in the process, offending someone else’s notion of propriety?
Memoir is defined as the story of our memories, written in what the industry categorises as “narrative non-fiction” style; that is, like a novel, but with elements of truth in it. The difference with autobiography and biography is instructive. Biography utilises verifiable names, dates, timelines and events, whereas a memoirist concerns herself with the recall of her memories, which may have little or no bearing on what actually happened: a crucial distinction which in itself reveals both the dangers of writing memoir, and the defences we can deploy in the interests of harmony and to shield ourselves from adverse comments.
It is possible, indeed probable, that on occasion, and perhaps when we least expect it, we will have to contend with unreasonable people. It’s never those whom we assume are bound to be most offended, who are. And when writing anything that we hope will one day see publication, we must accept the risk that there will be those who will be unhappy both with what we have written, and with the fact that we have bothered – or dared – to publish it.
I’ve never let another person’s lack of reason or self-discipline stop me from expressing myself; and, sensible caution aside, I contend that anyone who lets worries such as these stop them writing, is putting the cart before the horse. Publication – probably the point at which most people will read our work for the first time – as a goal can take anything from two to ten years. Writing – which only we need ever read – we can start immediately.
Thanks for listening.