I spent today writing. It is a piece for The Hubbard Hall Writers’ Project, a piece of memoir that I may never share with anyone because it is not polished, it is not linear. It may not make sense to anyone but me. It is intensely personal and probably necessary. It is stuff that needs to be put down and sorted through to move on. In many ways it is background material for all that comes next.
It reminds me of my self-portrait projects. For each of us there is a past and a present. The people we were and the people we have become. In my writing, there is the story I have been telling myself and the story I want to tell now. Like these pictures in many ways they are the same and in many ways they are different.
The pictures can’t tell the whole story, there is a wealth of life between the childhood photo and the adult photo and any written account still has such gaps. There are things I want to share and things I don’t, things that are mine to tell and things that belong to others. I would not be who I am today if it were not for all these things, and so I write down what I can and I stare at the words like I stare at my photos and try to understand who I am and how I got here.
That’s what memoir is I guess, whether it manifests itself in words or in pictures. I begin each semester of my Memoir class asking my student “What memoir is and why would anyone like to write one?” But, I’m not sure I have ever tried to answer that question for myself. I have one student who has taken my class eight times and each time she answers this question it evolves. If I were to answer it today I would say a memoir is our search for meaning, the best possible explanation we can give at the moment. It tries to connect the dots and create a story. It tries to understand how the bald headed toddler smelling the roses became the woman doing the same.
Writing Prompt: 1. What is a memoir and why would anyone want to write one? 2. Write about a time you got from here to there. What happened?