Each of us carry around a world of words inside us, those words form stories, some of those stories make sense… we can feel them and see them and touch them. Some of those stories are out-of-order, scrambled, strewn about in all the dark crevasses of our minds — we search for a beginning and an ending, something, anything that puts the words in order to form a story that we can accept.
Often, the stories inside us define us, not because they should. Some of those stories don’t deserve to be given any energy, those stories that keep pushing our heads under water every time we try to surface for a breath — the lies we tell ourselves.
Towards the end of October, I decided I wanted to let the words out, I had to let the words out – to give them life. We all have those stories in us, we can’t keep them inside… it hurts, and we can’t ignore the hurting — hurting requires us to pay attention to it. So we release them… to our friends over coffee, to our sisters over the phone — we release them and it feels so good, and the hurting stops.
I’ve been lucky enough to have formed connections with some amazing writers who can break me open with one well placed sentence, I took a breath and sent one of those friends a message one day and told her I was writing a book, a memoir. Even writing the word “memoir” made me cringe, still, I cringe. I think a piece of me wanted her to talk me out of it. Statistically speaking, the likelihood of writing a memoir and getting it published is, well, bleak. There are probably 1000 novels and memoirs and short story collections and poetry chap books that are written for every one that actually gets published and the one that actually gets published may not be the best, just the luckiest – so, I was almost hoping her response would be an emphatic ”No!” I’ve never written anything longer than 4000 words (I’m sure my graduate papers don’t actually count although my professor told me my papers resembled an article in Us magazine more than they did a research paper — she was puzzled when I smiled and told her, “Thank you!”), this could be, not one of my wiser ideas. But my friends response was full of exclamation points and cheer and hope, so I became full of exclamation points and cheer and hope.
I had to ask what a WIP was and what it meant when someone wanted to be a reader for you and how long is a memoir and what’s a manuscript and what is a query and how do you revise and when do you revise… I think me going into this with no knowledge might be the best way, for me.
I am writing this memoir for me, to try to organize the stories from the last five years that have been floating around haphazardly in my brain. As with all the pieces of myself I’ve left here on this blog, I hope to cut myself open and bleed all over the pages of this memoir and maybe we’ll gather up the pieces of ourselves, together.
So… I began…
And those words… they just started spilling out.
I went from zero words to 65,000 words in about 30 days… and then, the words became harder to set free. That’s where I am now, trying to set the last 15,000 words free so I can officially have a “shitty first draft“. The trouble with memoir is, it’s difficult to pinpoint the end of the story because I am the end of the story. The words I’m trying to put into order form the story of me. But, here I am… cutting myself open and divulging all the broken pieces and the dark crevasses and the bottomless rabbit holes with the hope that our stories connect us — we all have a story that needs to be told and needs to be heard and somewhere in the midst of all of those words, the breaking becomes the healing.