Memoirs come from someplace deep inside us, private travel to an unknown land. I wrote a memoir when I became outraged concerning treatment of my best friend, who spent her life in mental institutions. My story grew into a lengthy saga. I’ve read and heard other people’s memoirs, and the genre has a similar quality quite different from a novel. Memoirs relive real situations and relationships, and we can see ourselves from another viewpoint. As one writer put it, “ I write because it isn’t there.”
Words appear on paper, and trigger the past. A friend confided, “ I write because I must.” It helps to have an audience when we revisit time, decisions, and outcomes again.
Decades ago, I watched my six year-old brother play army by himself in our living room. He upturned our Japanese coffee table for a barrier to shoot his enemy, and pretended to get shot. He paused long enough to apply a pretend band aid over his eye before shooting again. I watched him from across the room, and got into his game, seeing what he saw, and responding when he got shot. I was with him. Writing the memoir puts me back there.
Writing provides us a sense of immortality. Photographs and recording devices have changed the way we preserve memoir, but communicating processes, reading, writing, listening and speaking give us choices.
Thank you for reading my words! My brother has been dead over forty five years. I won’t always be breathing either, but my words remain frozen in sound-symbols.
Reading one’s own memoir from decades prior is, well it is exactly the meaning of the phrase from way back, “a TRIP!” And having recently so done, I can attest that the trip is honest; regardless of the degree of honesty present either in the writer (me/you) or the reader (me/you again!) because across the years, one knows what is true, what is fabricated or embellished, and what is merely perception from a specific perspective point. I say “is” because once written, it is in the current existential state, though carrying with it the rose colored glasses of then and now.
Love this timely reflection from you, Pru. Keep it coming!
I think you are a very good writer,and it must have been incredible to find your young self in your own words!
That is what took place, my 65-year-old self reading from the memoirs of my 13-year-old self. It gave me better understanding of what went on a few years ago with my Dad and me. When my father was 90, he showed me his diary from the age of 15. A small town son of the minister, his mother took in boarders and my father observed new comers, and spoke of activities at school. He also wrote about girls who caught his eye, and left a heart or several on the page. It was awesome for me to read this with him, and to be a party to his old self meeting his young self again. This is the circle of life, and in that set of moments, there were countless concentric circles moving all around us. Remembering now makes me dizzy, as it was profoundly moving.
Isn’t writing amazing???