October 6, 2016
I’m overjoyed to have just finished the last revision of Part I of my new work, Red in the Morning. It merges two different kinds of prose, memoir and novel. (At least for me, they’re different in the writing, ‘tho I have read memoirs that read like novels and vice-versa.) When I’m going from notes or a journal I don’t have too much trouble with memoir writing: dialog, narration, description, and interior monologue come easily, and I don’t have to worry about plot/action because in memoir what happens is what happened–you just tell the truth. The hard part is remembering.
I’ve always had a hard time with novel writing since I’m still not good at plotting. Whenever I start inventing it all sounds like pulp fiction, which I dislike. I actually have finished, and revised, two and a half novels..and am finally returning to one, “Outwatch.” But I’m enjoying this new work since I’ve found a creative way to blend truth and fiction.
Well, here’s another confession about my writing habits. What I’m about to say will be believed only by those with similar experiences. It just sounds too weird to say that I enjoy grief writing.
I used to tell everyone that people write grief memoirs to help move through grief, get to the other side. That’s true, but for me there’s another reason. I still haven’t left grief-land; too often find myself wallowing in it. Maybe those of us who have loved too deeply never get over the loss. Anyway, when the fit comes, I rush toward physical activities–golf, pickleball, walking the dog, biking, running in place. Physical activity helps for the time, but only for the time. You can’t do sports all day long, but you can write until you fall asleep. Doing that helps more than running in place.
So, I keep asking myself, how is it that writing about painful stuff can lift a person’s spirit? I don’t know, but it works for me. I actually rush toward the computer, half-smiling, ready to do battle. Something lifts inside. The dark starts to lighten. I think I’ll subtitle the Memoir Workshop, “Writing from Dark to Light.”