What Happened….Stage Five (Part Two)
You memoir is unbalanced. You do not, as an editor suggested, have a theme. Without a theme — this so called thread that has the heavy work of carrying your entire memoir on its back – your book wanders all over the place like a garden snake, twisting from one cluster of events to another, seemingly at random and without purpose. The memoir does not have the arc every successful story needs: What It Was Like, What Happened, What It Is Like Now. But you have no discipline and you are reluctant about paring the memoir down, indecisive of what should go and what should stay (Mom: “You don’t know what you want.”)
Consider the numbers:
— 32 jobs loosely spread over nine career paths.
— 24 moves across several states and three countries.
— Two sons, four grandchildren, the two best daughters-in-law in the world.
— Four divorces, three broken engagements, a few encounters that need not fit into the memoir of a 70 year old woman who has found her own brand of redemption, and is grateful for these few secured borders.
— A bit of college – a bit of three colleges, in fact. (Mom: “I warned you.”) and a graduate (1963) of Claremont Secretarial School (Motto: “Hat, Hose, Heels, and Gloves”). Three writing retreats, a couple of weekend workshops. Life.
— 10 years sober since one hell of a nasty Mother’s Day in May 2002
You look at the statistics of your life, the hundreds of people and decisions and events they represent and a memoir seems impossible. You begin reading snatches of it here and there, realizing over a period of months that this is the wrong book. You also admit there may not ever be a book. Last summer at a Natalie Goldberg workshop at Kripalu Center in Lenox, MA, you learned that process is equally, or possibly even more important than the end result. You found great relief in this new perspective: Life as process, writing as process, you as process.
You continued writing and one day, who remembers when, you began thinking about a blog. Thanks to your mother and Natalie and AA, you realized you needed a structure – okay, a discipline – to embrace the process. The framework of the blog offered just such a solution. The blog would nudge you along on busy and challenging and lazy days. It would allow you to move freely about, writing short to mid-length posts which had their own beginning, middle and end, while not necessarily directly relating to the whole. Your life, your blog, will refresh — reflect — each other.
You think about the fisherman on Lake Patzcuaro hurling his hand woven empty net over the dawn-chilled water; hauling it back in hand over hand at sunset full of wet-squirming, pop-eyed fish. The fisherman will not keep all the fish. He will cull through them with rough hands, choosing which he wants for himself, which he wants to sell and which he will toss back into the dark waters of the lake. This is how you see your life – your real life, your life as memoir, your life as a disparate whole, cohesive only because you are the container for all the stories whether remembered or forgotten. Like the fisherman you will choose which stories to tell, which stories to sell, and which stories to keep for yourself.