4 Lessons Learned: Week 4

Memory is also fickle.  She must be wooed and courted if she is to succumb to our charms.

Something More by Sarah Ban Breathnach

  1. Maybe it is important to know that it remains a challenge to recover memories.  They do not want to surface easily. Most days I pull on them, pull and pull until they smash through some hard barrier.  Often I get to exhausted with all my pulling. How challenging it must be for those with memories that want to be forgotten.
  2. My journey through memoir writing is affecting me in some amazing areas. One night this past week I was really upset. The kind of upset that would cause me to run to the city to blow off steam. Instead I grabbed my journal, out of the ordinary for me to sit still to write when I am so upset, and went to my room. Instinctively I knew just how to write out my frustrations. I wrote a letter to the culprit that knew what buttons to push. I was very happy that my body and heart just took over and left my mind/ego behind to catch up with what is going on.
  3. It is up to me to calm down the stresses I put on myself that prevent me from meeting my goals. I remain my enemy and it interferes with my writing.
  4. It feels like an awesome responsiblity to hold someone else’s story.  I asked some of my friends this week if I could post a few stories about them on the internet cause I didn’t want to use pseudo names. The ones I asked said yes.  Now I feel stress.  Wow.  They have put my version of their past in my trust. Now I am nervous.

Diary of a Memoir Writer: A Bit of Panic

Panic set in Friday night. I knew I needed to write a post for Saturday and Sunday reviewing the week but it hit me that I hadn’t been paying attention to what was going on this week. I had no idea, well I had a couple of things that I had learned, but I needed more than that. They seemed so lame.

Perhaps not paying attention is why I didn’t feel excited this week. Not once did I want to take out the wine bottle and celebrate. Sure my little girl and I were out two days due to the flu but still… usually I feel excited even after just a couple of days of writing.

So I felt afraid come Friday that I had nothing to write about this weekend. Then Saturday morning came and I felt panic in my chest. So I ran away and spent the day in the city.

On my return I’m faced with guilt. I have company here so I stress over how I’m going to find time to write a post, cook supper and visit. My writing will take last place.


I have missed so many days of writing. How will I make this up? Is it even realistic to set a goal for writing a memoir? Can I squeeze all my memories in a six-week writing period?

See what I am doing now? I’m starting to bash myself for any goal setting I have done. I tell myself  ‘I have no idea what I am doing.’  (After all shame and guilt go together well.  Like wine and dark chocolate.)

Language and Communication = Sisters

One of the biggest things I learned this week was why my sisters and I have an unspoken language. It is because we played together when we were young.

Sound so simple but I believe it is true. When I wrote the story about my running away and when I returned home I made up an adventure in the backyard and my two sisters slid right into my story. We shared an imagination. It’s like our own language. No one will be able to take that away from us.

This led me to realize that this could be the reason why I have a hard time communicating with other people. It is because I’m used to speaking this other language.

I really hope I can portray my relationship with my sisters well in my memoir. It is a significant part of my life.

I am the one in the blue top and a pony tail on my head:)

Reflecting Is A Bigger Deal Than I Thought

I realized this week how important reflecting is. Reflecting not just on what I’m writing, the whole process – the thoughts, emotions and behaviors that are happening behind the scenes. I have always stated that being aware and reflecting is important.  I have understated it.  It is bigger than I thought.  There is gold in reflecting and I hope to find it.

Learning about my emotions, thoughts, and behaviors is my real reward in all of this writing. Learning what they mean and say about me is the picture I want to see at the end.

In Closing

Goal setting, I will do my darndest with this project taking it to the end of December if necessary to complete its first draft. But once January 1st comes I want to begin a new project. Well this project isn’t really new. It has been brewing for a couple of months. Actually a decade. My sister and I have always wanted to write a cook book over the years but in the last two months it has grown into something.  It desires a birth.

It will have recipes but it will also be about growth, about being a vegetarian, about battling with procrastination and our damn minds telling us it would be better to watch an episode of Murder, She Wrote than do yoga. The book will be about our journeys to living better and healthier. So I want to focus on that in the new year.  Don’t misunderstand, I will still be editing this book and Sunlight and I begin working at a nursing home running memoir workshops for the residents on December 9th.  Yay!!!!

I gotta stay focused and keep my routine.  Write! Write! Write!  Reflect! Reflect! Reflect! Be aware. Be aware. Be aware. Don’t let doubt, shame and guilt creep into this project.  They are not good supportive friends.  Not at all!

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