Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ready steady

            Writing my first novel took six years.  The second was done in two; the third, nine months.  There's an outline for a new book sitting in my desk drawer, but it's a dangling carrot, the reward for finishing my memoir.
            You see, writing non-fiction isn't really my bag.
            I spent nearly a year combing through journals and scrapbooks, taking notes and  choosing what to leave in, what to set aside for later consideration.  After an initial mashing together of all the scraps of my history, I decided to change gears and redirect the memoir into something more unified and less chaotic.  Heaven for my inner Virgo, hell for my muse.     
            Working my way through chapter one last month was painstaking.  Every day I'd sit in front of the blank computer screen and wonder, "Does this matter?  Why am I bothering?  Why can't I go back to writing fiction where I can make it up as I go along?"  And then a memory would peek through the shadows of my judgments and I'd write it down as if it were a story I was telling a close friend.  In first person, present tense, I wrote as a four year old and then a seven year old, a ten year old, a thirteen year old.  With each story, a reflection spontaneously came afterward, a place of weaving in the experience, the lesson, the encounter and allowing it to find its place in my life as it is today. 
            And then I stopped. 
            It wasn't writer's block per se, just a cloudy place of not knowing how to continue.  I was born into the "lie and deny" generation reflected in Mad Men and came of age in the "puke and spew" culture `a la Jerry Springer.  I find both of these to be incredibly manipulative. The first buries shame, guilt or unsavory secrets often to the detriment of subsequent generations. The second reflects the willingness to reveal anything to feed the need for attention and exploit the aforementioned skeletons for public consumption. 
            I struggled with how to tell my truth with clarity and yet not allow the pages to literarily bleed with too much information. 
            From this place of murky miasma, Open Road was born.  Two weeks ago, it hit the ground running with lots of encouragement from friends and readers everywhere.  I learned how to focus and write from a place of clear integrity.  The time and space between each entry motivates me to write the memoir with both honesty and restraint.  In all of the blogs you've read so far, the skeleton of the story is there (not hidden in the proverbial closet) and some of the window dressing as well.  Still, there are elements I've kept to myself.  The deeply personal and private details will remain just that.  It's a fascinating place from which to write...this balancing act between what's true and what's discrete. 
            I thank you all for enjoying and commenting on this platform from which I'm jumping into the waters of the unknown, into the mystery that this memoir is unwinding.  I'm ready to immerse myself once again and through writing Open Road, steady enough to enjoy the unfolding.