Monthly Archives: July 2014

Musings on Memoir Writing

As I sit and reflect on the last six months of memoir writing I’m struck by how how much my landscape (emotional and environmental) changes over the six month period spanning December through June.

In January it feels dark all the time. Where the sparkle and warmth of the holiday season are gone they’ve left behind late sunrises, early sunsets and all around feeling of grayness in the skies and my mind. I don’t find the time to be as depressing as my description might suggest. I’m one to fully embrace the time to move slowly, look inward, and be still enough to spot the tiny seedlings of inspiration as they just break through the husk of their seeds or the line where the soil meets the air.

In June sunshine is abundant. The sun is up and awake before me and goes to bed just shortly before I do. At nearly 9pm the sky is still lit a bright indigo color even though the sunlight itself is no longer illuminating the air around me. The school year is nearly over and the excitement of Summer fun is in the air.

It’s as if the months of January through June are when the earth is inhaling. Taking a slow, deep breath filling herself with life giving oxygen. Going from being depleted into bursting alive with the most energy she will have all year. In July the exhale will begin, the breath cresting and pausing at the point where June becomes July and the promise of Summer becomes the sunburnt skinned reality of heat. The colors, while still vibrant, will be hyper lit as light bulbs giving one final flare before popping and burning out.

Writing a memoir during the inhale has been an exhilarating and sometimes painful experience. January’s slow pace allowed the rate at which my words flew from mind to page to feel like a mad dash to the finish. As the pace of the world quickened and the pace of my writing slowed I felt disturbingly out of sync with my surroundings. As earth’s lungs were filling to bursting with life and plants I’d never noticed before were blooming into magnificently colored flowers I wanted to give up. My writing was flat, dull, and gray. January writing in June. But in the power of the inhaling earth was the opportunity to come along at any moment. I was reinvigorated by a conversation with my coach and my writing bloomed along with all these flowering plants.

Beginning the month of June having written 49,000 of my 60,000 word goal I notice a spaciousness inside me that wasn’t there before. The pages of my memoir have been inhaling and taking from me words that give it life. As they near the point of fullness and need to pause, rest and begin the exhale I am frightened. I’ve never felt this spaciousness before, never lived without the words of this story residing my cells. What will do I now to feel full (besides binge eat junk food and pretend not to know why I’m doing it)?

I won’t. Fullness, while it was the goal or aim or sometimes unintended, but comfortably familiar result of my choices… is no longer the goal. Having emptied the story onto the page I choose to learn to live with the uncomfortable silence that’s left behind. Silence that was once white noise blocking out access to other stories, ideas, and experiences. It’s a whole new world inside my head now. Just in time for the earth to finish her inhale and begin the meandering exhale again. Pushing the old, used up air out and staying quiet inside to just listen.

I can’t wait to hear what will show up.