A very necessary process

Stage one “splurge” writing is, I contend, a very necessary part of what will end up – several years later – as a finished memoir that someone else may read with pleasure. Stage One splurge is the leap of the cliff that may end badly, but since we are writing alone and for ourselves only, we do have total freedom to write and re-write whatever we like, as often as we need to, until our scalding thoughts have cooled enough to be moulded unto something more presentable.

I suspect that without this very necessary process of uncensored writing, our finished product may be very polished, but may lack heart. And since one of the purest defences to any allegations of unkindness, cruelty or falsehood is authenticity, I think that the creative splurge at step one of memoir writing is a vital part of the creative whole. 

So we splurge, and then after acres of scribbling we surface and then what? Well, if you are anything like me, you will rewrite and edit about a million times, because while splurge is necessary for our sanity, it does not always make the best reading. It may be that only very select parts of our original splurge spree will ever get into print. A process of trimming and excision that is particularly true of memoir.

It is not much use asking a memoirist at the early stages in their journey to “stay objective” or “be nice to other people”. If a memoirist is worried about being unkind or subjective or cruel, s/he are nowhere near ready to go public. If, during the process of editing and refining, we are asking a memoirist to reconsider aspects of what they have written, that is either because (a) we are reading an early-stages manuscript that should still be locked-down and private, or (b) we have been invited to give editorial feedback on a manuscript which needs paring back and reorganising.

Thanks for listening. (To be continued.)

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