Tuesday, May 01, 2007

the measure of me

in my last post i mentioned someday writing a book based on my particular brand of crazy. i've promised that for a long time, but i think this weekend, i actually started. the kick in the pants was the preceding post, based on the two memories i shared. it made me realize that i had more grey memory areas than previously indicated.

and what better way to start getting through those than writing everything out? and i mean just about everything. a chronology of me. for once i didn't have anything else i *had* to do on saturday, so i wrote (longhand) for about 6 hours straight.

i can't even tell you how awesome that was. even though parts of it were emotionally tough to write, it was awesome writing almost all day, just for me.

it took me 11 pages (8x11) to cover birth til the first half of the 6th grade. we moved in the middle of that year, is why i stopped there. incidentally, that chapter ends with me being heartbroken -- was the first time i felt relationship angst (at least, angst i can easily recall) because we moved away from the boy i loved.

and yes, i had no idea what heartbreak, or love, was really like yet. seriously pales in comparison to relationships as an adult, but you could've fooled me. young hearts still can break, and mine was absolutely broken at the time.

since my horrible memory was able to produce 11 pages thusfar, i'm nervous about how much content i'll have as we move forward to times when i actually start remembering these things called 'details'.

which brings me to the other reason i'm writing this all out. if i'm going to write a book based on interesting things from my past, i should really know what parts of my eventual book are fact versus fiction. i think the best way to do that is to write out the facts first. at least, it is for me. :)

anyone else ever do this? thought about it?


gs said...

When I was younger I believed that anyone's biography, including my own, was a matter of absolute fact. But I find that the older I get, the more flexible I become about the concept of "fact." Why isn't something that I believe happened, but perhaps didn't really, just as important to me, today, as something that really did? And sometimes the ultimate truth -- the moral of the story, if you prefer -- is better served by altering the facts. Of course I'm taking on the responsibility of deciding what is the moral of the story, what is ultimate truth, and this would be unacceptable if I was a historian. But when it comes to my own life, why not? I find that now, when I look back on my life, I don't worry about truth or facts. Only feelings and ideas.

Sorry for the ramble, but you asked if anyone else thinks about these things, and I do, a great deal.

heather said...

actually i totally get that. and i am very aware that i am only writing down my version of the facts. since i'm not ultimately planning to write an autobiography, i think my version's good enough. if i end up making up some 'facts' along the way, it's ok. ;-)

Dharma said...

I think the majority of us would write things that in many way resemble fiction. There are/would be lots of facts, but the literary devices and years of reflection turn it into a lot of fiction. IMO/E. A lot of the content in novels or memoire impacts readers because of the feeling evoked not the specific facts.

reasonably prudent poet said...

fudging the facts can be ok, but when those facts involve other people, it's dangerous. for example, the ex-husband of a good friend of mine wrote a memoir about life after she left him. (sensational b/c she left the kids with him and she left him for a woman.) he altered some details, using what he called "creative license" to make the story more dramatic. that's all fine and good, but the details he altered were things that made my friend out to be pretty nasty. not only did it hurt her, but she's afraid her kids won't remember how things really were, since the book is now the de facto history of that period of time. yikes. she got her "revenge" though by refusing to go on oprah to help him promote the book. she didn't refuse as revenge, the revenge was just a bonus. she figures he lost thousands in book sales that an oprah appearance would have generated.

heather said...

hi, thanks for visiting! yes, i feel very aware of that, too, although knowing my family, i can't imagine this kind of situation would ever happen. but, i do plan to tread carefully...modify the hell out of things so that no one can sue me or anything.

gs said...

=Dharma said... years of reflection turn it into a lot of fiction.=

That expresses my sentiment exactly!

=reasonably prudent poet said... using what he called "creative license" to make the story more dramatic.=

There's a distinct line between errant memories and outright lying. And even between altering a story to make a point and outright lying to increase sales. Any "memoir" writer who knowingly employs "creative license" should feel obliged to make that clear.