Memoir and Myth

It’s exciting to begin a memoir in a community of brilliant bloggers.  I am blessed to have each of you join me on this journey backward in time—this travel to a sometimes painful past.

But in an effort to explain some of the insight you’ve helped me gain this week, I’m going to digress into myth.  It’s Friday and tomorrow is my 49th birthday, so think of me as a soon-to-be-old lady whose senility has brought on this bout of babel.

However, it’s true that, according to Greek mythology, if Psyche wanted to be reunited with her bridegroom Eros, she had to complete 4 tasks assigned to her by Eros’ mother Aphrodite—tasks that Jungians suggest represent the female process of individuation, a woman’s journey toward emotional maturity.

The first of these tasks—sorting a huge pile of seeds—mirrors, some scholars believe, the psyche’s effort to take stock, sort out options, assess what’s on hand—work that is thought to be foundational for female emotional growth. 

So, in good literary form, over the next week, I’ll be sorting sources in a first step toward making this memoir less a matter of myth and more a matter of fact.  

You all gave me great advice this week about how to manage the work ahead—supportive comments that built organically and culminated with a recommendation from Mrs. H./Amanda over at “A. Hab’s View of the World:”

Do you think it would be helpful for you to work on a year, a month, a week at a time? Start wherever you like (if it’s the beginning, middle, the end, wherever feels good), but then maybe start hacking through it a chunk at a time? Take December 1995, for instance (grabbing that one out of the air since that’s the date on the photo you shared above). Remember that your memoir will not be a volumes-long diary of every little moment, every little experience. Instead, you are going to be distilling it down for your readers into the most important moments, the most important experiences. But maybe if you could prioritize and chunk your research it will help you be less daunted. Instead of thinking, “I’m working on my memoir,” change your thinking to, “I’m going to tell the story about December 1995.” A memoir will come out of that (just like a dissertation will come out of two pages a day)…eventually.

This brilliantly summarized so many comments that had come before and mapped a path ahead that I believe I can, indeed, follow. 

So in an effort to select a month to begin writing about, I’ve dragged a life-time’s worth of journals from the attic and am sorting them, first according to year and then according to month, so I can assess and make an informed decision about how to proceed.

So as we head into another weekend, a birthday weekend for me, I want to remind each of you how much I appreciate your kind comments, your helpful suggestions and recommendations. 

Your support will help me make this memoir happenI love you all!

44 thoughts on “Memoir and Myth

  1. You really are too kind, Kathy. And I am so humbled that that little bit of advice has helped get you started. 🙂 I love the image of you as Psyche–how perfect! I can’t wait to see what comes from the sorting-out. 🙂

    Also, happy birthday tomorrow!!


  2. Happy Birthday Kathy! What a great gift to give yourself – sorting your seeds as it were. We will be cheering for you as you take on this journey!


  3. Great advice from Mrs H. And I am releasing a bunch of balloons and best wishes for your 49th birthday. I’ve said over and over that my great transformation began in the years leading up to 50. What an exciting time for you to be taking control of your life in a whole new way.


  4. Happy Birthday, Kathy! Thank you for sharing your journey with us. While your journey is unique in many ways (as it should be) it also speaks volumes to many as we travel through our own mythic journeys. I’m glad we are all together in some ways to face whatever transformations come. enjoy sorting your seeds.


    • Ah, yes, that’s the power of archetype–isn’t it! For my expereince to speak to those who have had very different experiences would be the ultimate success! I love the way the human story is so often variations on the same theme!


  5. Happy Birthday, sweet Kathy! I hope you and Sara have something wonderful planned to celebrate the first day of this new year, a year of traveling your past…

    blessings and best…
    and, I LOVE your saffron walls.



    • Yes, it is a kind of travel! It really is! Yesterday Sara and I went shopping and out for breakfast and lunch. The last stop was our favorite book store, so we came home, crawled in bed, and read. Life is so exciting here in Kentucky!

      Glad you like the paint. We enjoy color–a lot of color————-


  6. Happy birthday, Kathy! It sounds like you have a wonderful road map to help you forge ahead into a new and exciting year of your life! Enjoy your special day tomorrow.


  7. What a wonderful endeavor. And the photograph!? It is marvelous. I love the stacks of journals, and the beauty that seems to emanate from them. I wish you courage and steadfastness in your work. Live your life, cherish your moments – present and past – and reflect on the sublime. You are taking on a marvelous task.

    And, oh yes, Happy Birthday!

    David W. Berner
    Author, Accidental Lessons


    • Thank you, David. It is a huge task, but I’m looking forward to it! Glad you find my stack beautiful. Sometimes it looks more daunting to me.

      But, gosh, thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. I SO hope you’ll come back and join me on this journey!


  8. Wow! That’s a lot of journals! I got writers cramp just looking at the pic! 🙂 Happy Birthday Tomorrow! And I’m sure you meant to type 29 and not 49 right???? 🙂


  9. What a gift to be able to go through details of the years of your life. I only have that with travel journals taking me back through various trips and of course my blog for day-to-day and then my faulty memory LOL.

    As with anything big – start at the beginning.

    Happy Birthday!


  10. Seriously? Those are all your journals? I would be terrified to go through a similar stash. Thank goodness my journal-writing was squelched by an early case of writer’s block, or possibly a case of beer–it was about that time in my life. Else I’d have lots of evidence of self-importance, self-delusion and puffery, and I like my amnesia better. But good for you.


  11. Last trip was Burma/Cambodia but traveled a lot through Asia, parts of Europe and of course the Americas. But never a long-stay which is how I found your blog. Living in the country – what an amazing experience.


    • You are so right. It is powerful to live in a country, as it has a chance to really become a part of you. I think that’s why it was so hard to leave Haiti– I felt like I had lived the place, breathed it, cried it!


  12. Happy birthday, Kathy – hope it was a fabulous day.
    I’m glad you’re choosing one step at a time – seeds take some time to blossom into flowers or trees, and they need all the right conditions and nurturing.
    You can do this, Kathy – it’s so wonderful to be part of this process with you.
    Sunshine xx


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