Starting the process of writing about my life wasn’t that difficult. That’s not to say that my first pass was perfect – far from it – but, if I didn’t worry about censoring or editing myself as I went, the words mostly just came. I find the bigger challenges have to do with the fact that I’m writing a memoir. First, many of my memories are those of a child, and I’m sure they are not all strictly accurate. I have probably associated certain events with the wrong places (I moved around a lot as a young kid), and I know my memory is somewhat selective. There are major chunks of time, and some smaller ones, that have been long buried because they were too painful to remember. I’ve made a concerted effort to investigate my past as openly and honestly as I can, but it’s hard to dig back so many years and try to relive emotional and challenging times. My perspective is only mine – I occasionally include thoughts and memories from my sister, but those are the result of fairly recent conversations. Other than that, I’m sure others remember the scenarios I write about differently than I do – I’m not trying to speak for anyone but myself, but I’m also trying to do so without being overly apologetic.
Second, I write about many things that will inherently be painful for others that were involved in my life. No life is lived without mistakes, and the people around me made many. I expect to meet difficulty as I put my writing in front of various people and attempt to get their blessing to move forward with my project publicly. It’s easy for me to discuss my writing with some of the people in it, but almost impossible for me to figure out how to tackle this with others. I’ve had some very interesting conversations with family members about some of the topics I’ve included in my memoir. They see certain things differently – and although that’s not necessarily a problem, it has caused me to pause now and then, and question my perspective. I’ve made a conscious choice to simply write what I remember and what I think about my past regardless of these things, because if my own memoir isn’t honest from my own perspective, then there is no point in writing it. It has been a wonderful learning experience, though, and has sparked some discussion in my family that I think is very valuable.
There have been other challenges, but these two are at the forefront of my mind, and are struggles I think are common for people writing about the pain of their pasts. As others come to mind, and as I work through the process of putting my writing in front of relatives or friends that appear in my story, I’ll post updates along the way.