This is important. I don’t want you to talk me down. This book I am writing, day by day, word after word, is not going anywhere. It is coming out of me and that is all I need from it.
I am not in love with the memoir, though I did only last week bring home a stack to lean against my bed for safekeeping. And I opened and am reading Eat, Pray, Love and have found I want to be Elizabeth Gilbert’s new friend. I find her engaging and humble in a way I hadn’t expected. To be honest, I thought this book would compare to the last memoir I finished and I was terrified to break into it, which is why I started Gilbert’s book before Naked; I was working backward.
The ineffable They say to read the books you want to write. I read a lot of fiction; I’m an escapist at heart. With the exception of Frank McCourt, Dave Eggers, Stephen King (I honestly don’t know if On Writing counts here), and Natalie Goldberg (in a manner of speaking) memoir writers haven’t held my attention. Elizabeth Gilbert has grabbed me in the sense that I have been in her berserk world of self sacrifice and holy hell and I want to know how she manages to break out of it. Also, as I said before, I think she’s a friendly.
(Here’s a side note: NOT to downplay women writers, but I just realized that every memoir I have read written by a woman puts a certain amount of attention on one or another form of God. This can’t always be the case, but maybe my list is shorter than I think.)
So anyway. What am I trying to accomplish if not some amazing work of literary brilliance with which to stun and electrify millions of unknowing readers?
Every day I sit down to write. Every day this word focus lights up, blinking frantically across the page like midnight neon in a Tom Waits’ song. Focus. Focus. I need it bad. The only way to get it is to do. Enter: the memoir. Easy peasy. Or not quite. Whatever. We’re in this for the long haul and I’m not going to bore you with every highlight and lowlight that comes along; I just want you to know, no pressure. We’re taking this one word at a time.
Before you go there’s something that has been nagging me about memoirs and I really would love to hear some opinions on this. All along I’ve had it in my mind that memoirs are written currently about past events, but now I’m noticing a trend in writing events as they occur. Somewhere I read an explanation of a diary as opposed to a memoir, being that a diary is recorded as events unfold. What do you think? Am I being too nit-picky? For the record, what I am writing crosses over from present to past and back again, though I call it memoir for lack of a better word. Hit me up.