I might be procrastinating. Or maybe I’m taking my time! I’m definitely trying to avoid rushing the process because that’s what I did last time, and I regretted it.
Also, I’ve run into a few problems. It’s nothing that can’t be solved. I’m not worried. Let me explain.
/1/ I’ve got conflicting editors.
Like most challenges, there can be an opportunity lying amongst what looks to be chaos. I’ve made lots of suggested changes and I deeply appreciate those who have edited my baby, but I’m definitely getting conflicting feedback. So instead of solely relying upon others, the BF recommended that I get my own grammar chops up to snuff. Yes! but this requires that I pick up The Elements of Style by Strunk and White...see procrastinating.
/2/ I’m entering new territory.
Essentially, I feel a great sense of responsibility because I’m writing about real people. That’s why I used fake names in my first one. I also was careful to leave much of me out of it because I wanted the reader to come to their own conclusions over the situations.
But for my second memoir, I can’t do that. Part of the problem is a family member who will most likely not be happy with no matter what I do. There’s also a decent chance of being misunderstood and having my point of view challenged, but I’m not concerned too much about that. However, I do need to contemplate potential pitfalls and negative side effects.
/3/ Overanalyzing and letting go.
The interesting thing about writing from truth is you can go down this path where you turn over every rock, leaf, and twig. In fact, you might say it’s inevitable for the sake of the story and it’s interesting to consider other points of view and the context in which the events took place.
Of course, you can analyze something to the DEATH. I definitely feel like I get that way. This is probably the dark side of journaling. And perhaps this is why memoirs turn out badly because the story has to be about the reader, too. We write about ourselves in an effort to connect to the greater whole.
This push-pull relationship, too much versus too little information is tricky business. It’s also part of the process of letting go. And right now, I’m sick of my story. The bad part of this is I don’t want to deal with it. The good side is I feel I can be more objective. Regardless, the last time I edited it I read it backwards (from the last chapter to the first) in an effort to make it more interesting and to see it differently.
/4/ Fiction is fun. Why am I doing this again?
Is writing memoir a calling of sorts? I mean if given the choice, I don’t know why anyone would chose nonfiction over fiction.
Recently, I took the dive and started writing fiction short stories. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while then the timing was just right.
It’s funny. I used to think fiction was harder. But as I enter this shiny new world of creating make-believe stories, I feel like nonfiction is the harder one. Writing fiction is fun. I’m dreaming through the process. Sure, I’m not handling difficult plot points that come with a novel. I’m by no means an expert either.
When I was in college, I took a playwriting class which culminated to writing a full-length play. During feedback my professor asked me, “Is this true?”
It was – but it was dark secret stuff and I was terrified that my thinly-veiled attempt to fictionalize it had failed. I might have even been ashamed. So I told her, “no.”
She probably sensed that I was lying. I am, after all, a horrible liar. But the experience left enough of a mark that I didn’t write about the experience again. In fact, I’m fairly certain I threw it away. And the next play I ended up writing, years later, was a rhyming one for children based on the fairy tale The Golden Goose.
Writing memoir takes guts, it requires a lot of work. Fiction takes work, too. But all the fear that surrounds telling your truth, yeah, it’s a different kind of work – and quite frankly, not one that I feel many people realize is so difficult.
/5/ It’s mine until it’s no longer mine.
I’m in that in-between place of holding on and letting go. And so I realized that in this moment in time, my words, my personal story is still mine. Because once I publish it, once it’s out there, I will share a piece of me that will become somewhat altered by the sharing.
Sure, I’ve shared it with a few trustworthy friends, but it’s not the same as making it available to the general public. Even in this cocoon phase where I’m getting finicky about every comma, and second guessing my choices, this memoir is still “my precious”. It’s been reshaped, but I knew those who looked at it, looked at it with kind eyes.
This is not to say that other people won’t look at it kindly, but I know a thing or two about human behavior so I know that there will be consequences. I also know that there are plenty of Asian American stories already out there. Of course, I know mine will be the same, and mine will be different. In other words, I know that I have a universal tale and a unique one.
Yet I’m no celebrity, I’m not a famous anything. I’m just another girl in a world where individual voices are lost in the noise.