The Hardest Part

Walking up and having thoughts in my head, not really sure what they are but I know I want to write about my childhood.  Yet I can’t pull myself out of bed.  I don’t want to get up and remember.  It feels so hard.  It feels so challenging.  Yet I can’t shake this pressure, like so many memoiries trying to get out at once.  A mob.  I can’t distinquish one from the other.

I find my note book and pen.  The trick is to write it all out as fast as I can as soon as I get out of bed.  I don’t even go to the washroom unless it is immenent.  This is what I did.  I got up and let my memory flow from my mind through my pen.  After

Listening to this energy within me I pull myself from my warm bed into the chilly morning.  It is 2:30 in the morning.  I must write.  I find my note book and pen.  The trick is to write it all out as fast as I can as soon as I get out of bed.  I don’t even go to the washroom unless it is immenent.

This is what I did.  I got up and let my memory flow from my mind through my pen.  What falls out of me is one of my worst memories.  The memory of my mom, two of my sisters and myself driving away from my Dad as he stands in our drive way.  What was the heart breaking moment in this scene of my lfe?  Well, I didn’t understand why he didn’t wave good bye to me, us.  I sat in the backseat with two of my sisters.  I really didn’t know what was going on but I knew my Dad looked different.  He wasn’t acting the way he normally does.

April 1993
Dad is 69 years old and I am 17 years.

I felt that I was going to the city for an adventure.  I was excited.  We were coming back to visit.  Why would Dad find this trip different than the others?  Oh the mind of a naive twelve year old.  When I think back on myself I imagine me as a little girl but I was twelve.  Surely I should have had more comprehension than to think this was a holiday!

“My brother came to pick us up.  The car was loaded with our stuff.  Mom and David in the front seat and Eleanor, Melinda and I in the back.

“We backed out of the driveway and sat on the road for a moment. which was customary when someone leaves.  Whenever someone left there was a fit of waving and horn honking only this time was different.  I sat in the backseat, by the window closest to my dad standing on the driveway.  I wave but he just stands there.  I am not even sure he was watching us.  He was hunched over.  I couldn’t see his face.  He was looking down or away maybe?  I waited for him to wave back but he didn’t.  He always waved.  Why not now?

“Mom yells in the front seat, waving her hands like she is holding the reins of a horse carriage, “Go!  Go! Go!”  David stops waving and drives away.”

Excerpt from my writing


Writing Voice

Last week I did a speech at Toastmasters. It was my second speech. The goal of the speech was to have what you wanted to say organized. Get it to flow.

Nervousness consumed me. Not like before when I was working and had to public speak. This time it was different. I held the fear of putting myself  out there under a layer of something.  The fear felt muffled.  As I practiced my speech and reread it I felt I was never going to remember any of it. The fear of reading the speech and never making eye contact with the crowd filled me.

My first speech went much smoother. I wrote it the morning before I had to present it and it was about me. It was part of me. It didn’t take much to write it or feel comfortable with it although I was still nervous.  It was under the required time amount but when I got up to the podium I manage to be natural and add more content.  I enjoyed it very much and thought this second speech should go as smoothly.  It stemmed from my passion for memoir writing.  It was about the importance of a memoir, or reflecting on one’s life.

So what was different about the two speeches? One was from me about me. The other one was about my passion but I did use a lot of books to back up what I said versus the speech on me I didn’t need anything to back up my knowledge on the subject matter.  Since the words were not all my own it was difficult for me to feel comfortable with it.

This feeling is familiar to me.  I feel it often when I blog or when I feel the need to prove something to someone.  I am unable to find my own words so I turn to others who have said it for me.  I do this often, as does my husband, when we want to prove something to one another.

One of the kind criticisms I received at the end of my speech was that it sounded like I was writing to a publisher. The gentleman also commented that there was a lot of content in my speech and he felt that he would need to hear it more than once, several times, to hear everything I said.  He thought it was great but it was too full and it felt off.  (Those are my words not his.)

Compliments of Sunstone Creations

He suggested that writing for a speech may be different from writing for publisher as he put it. It needs to be more fun, natural, I need to feel comfortable up there at the podium.I pondered his suggestions for the next hour on my way home. My instinct is saying they should be the same.

I went to bed that night feeling as though the problem was in my writing voice. Perhaps it wasn’t very authentic in this second speech. Then curiosity bounced in joyfully.  I wondered about whether or not I was writing the right things on my blog. Maybe I shouldn’t be writing about how to write your memoir.  Perhaps I am a bit off my mark. If I am putting in too much effort on what I write then it isn’t flowing for me and then maybe it isn’t organic enough for me?  I wonder … or maybe I am doubting myself and I’m not saying it the way I want to say it?

I let the idea go and went on with my day but the idea of my authentic voice floated around and around in my mind. When I think back now I can recall being aware that my brain was churning it over.

Then the next morning, or maybe it was two days after, I woke up at 2:30 in the morning. Wide awake. I had a desire to start writing my childhood memoir. Now certainly the chill outside of my duvet kept me tucked within but there was an element of me just being lazy and not wanting to get up and sit down and write.

So I asked myself, why don’t I want to do the work?  The first two thoughts that followed were:

  1. Because it is going to be so much work not to mention the commitment to stay at it and the effort to  remember.  Drudging up memories can be good but also hard.
  2. I could approach my memoir-writing-how-to section on my blog by actually working on a memoir and writing about the process rather than referring backwards to the process I went through with Sunlight. Maybe this is a better technique to get to my authentic voice and say what I want to say while getting a another book written that has been on my mind.

Compliments of Sunstone Creations

So this is the beginning of a new technique.  I am going alter the posts “Memoir Writing:  Discover Your Life” posts by writing about my experience going through a current memoir writing process.  Trying and experimenting on finding my authentic voice in the written word.

Memoir Writing: 5 Thoughts About Truth In Memoir

Now my last post has possibly left you wondering about truth in writing down a memory if they are dependant on your emotions and ever changing point of view through time.

1.  To put it simply, as long as it is close enough, keep it plausible, you will be fine.  For example the colour of someone’s hair is less significant in most cases than the individual and the role they played in your life or memory.

2.  Capturing the true emotion, the heart of the story, is more important than all the details.  They help support the story – add colour.

3.  Keep writing. If you can get yourself into relaxed state, re-experiencing the moment, you will automatically fill in the spots you don’t remember with plausible details. Don’t stress if you place yourself in your grandma’s kitchen even though it may not have been. If it isn’t really important to the story than it is okay. Get the important bits down.  You may find yourself feeling like it is fiction after you write it but then come to sense that it was a part of your life.  Memories are tricky tricky things.

4.  If you have mixed emotions on an event you may be surprised at how it comes out on paper. It may take the point of view of good, bad, both, or indifferent. Extracting a memory from your head occasionally lets you see it’s true qualities and are able to let go of any attachment you have to it.  Kind of like wondering about an object laying on the floor only to realize it was your broach.

5.  Trust yourself. Be aware of free-floating thoughts as you remember the moment. Most importantly write. The truth of the memory will come out, or as closes to the truth as you need and want.

Self-Sacrifice Is Following Me Around

Pausing for a moment in my parka and boots to think if I have everything I look out the window and I see Chances looking up at me through the door window excited.  His whole body is wagging.  I am excited to see him so enthusiastic for our walk.  It is nothing new.  He has been this way since he joined our family not even a year ago.  His excitement to be with me never grows old.

I can’t think of anything else I need so I open the door and Chances immediately goes from upright wagging tail dog to sitting patiently but bouncing for glee inside.  He is waiting for his treat. I noticed this habit last week.  He was jumping for my hands, nipping and licking them looking for food.  In that moment I realized I had been packing a peanut butter sandwich with me lately for our walks and he got use to them more than I did.  Funny how habits form. Well today my hands are empty and since he is anticipating a peanut butter sandwich I want to get him one.  He is such a good puppy.

I open the door telling him I will be right back. He looks at me and cocks his head to the side wondering what is up.  He heard his name but I am not giving or doing anything exciting to his knowledge.  I make a peanut butter sandwich and begin to head out again. Handing him pieces of torn bread as we walk.  It occurs to me that I forgot a hanky.   I need a hanky on my walks.  Once again I tell him I will be right back and head back inside.  After grabbing that necessity I put my hand on the door handle.  He sees me through the window and is excited.  Almost jumping out of his skin.  He has a look in his eye, are we going now, huh, are we?   I realize I need to use the washroom.  I won’t go.  I look into his puppy dog eyes and he is so excited.  I don’t want to hold him back from his this moment any longer.  These morning walks are the highlight of his day and I’m taking forever to get out the door. I won’t make him wait.

SMACK!  Awareness hits me.  I have done this before. I have held off going to the bathroom for Craig – not wanting to be an inconvenience – and I’m even doing it for my dog!  The most devoted and forgiving being in my house!  

“We leave the office and I stand in the hall thinking I should go to the washroom but second guess that because I don’t want take up any more of Craig’s time away from work. I hop on the elevator not saying much to Craig.”  

Excerpt from Sunlight

When will this self-sacrificing end?!  When will I stop putting basic needs of mine in second place?  I wonder if I will battle self-sacrifice issue my entire life? Karma gives me this lesson to bare and I wonder what I did in a past life to require it.  Noticing these little moments is the beginning of change.  Flicking on my awareness switch two years ago has allowed more and more lights to come one.  Albeit they are slower than I would like but I guess that is part of the journey.

Memoir Writing: Discover Your Life – Emotions and Point of View

Thank you Sunstone Creation for use of your photo! This will be my image for these blog posts.

Memory, our tricky friend. How it dances about and plays games on us. Confusing us at times. Irritating us to remember name, place, or thing. The emotion attached to a memory, or the emotion that sparks the memory, as well as what we remember are reflections of who we are.

In the present moment our emotions will shape our point of view of a memory. A good mood may spark good memories and melancholy moods may spark gloomy memories.  In past jobs and relationships I have often wavered in them, swinging back and forth between “I need to leave” to “there are a lot of good things here for me”.   Depending on the day or my mood, I would have a certain perspective of the relationship or job.

Sutra 1.3 from the book Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali translates Sutra 1.3 in this way:

“Volition being the mode of behavior of the mind, it is liable to change our perception of the state and condition of this year from moment to moment.”

Often writing about a memory more than once will reawaken things, shift perspectives and maybe even alter your memory.  Memories often come when we are unprepared for them.  If at all possible try to jot them down.  It is challenging to get those memories back.  After a period of time, a week, a few days, months or years go by and it crosses your mind again.  Perhaps you reflected on the memory, consciously or unconsciously, from your first encounter with it and something has changed.  Perhaps a perception or more details have come to light of that day or event.  Every time you dance with it something new evolves with it.
In her book Your Life as Story by Tristine Rainer she gives the example of writing about your first kiss when you are a young woman and how it will look differently when you write about it at age thirty and age then again at age fifty.  Time and emotion, as well as understanding and knowledge, can reshape and give new meaning to memories.
By examining a memory and writing about it from different perspectives and over periods of time you will remember more of it and grow from it.

Redo this exercise from a previous post.  Reexamine it.  See if anything new comes from it.