Fighting the Memoir Monster (Another “Writing Neurotic” Post)


Writing a memoir is obviously not easy, but for me, even writing a single post about my childhood is proving as agonizing as masochistically possible.  And, I swear, I’m exaggerating only a little. 

(For background on my memoir project click here and here.)

Indeed, “Writing Neurotic” has come up with every excuse known to peri-menopausal woman, why “we” can’t complete even one of several posts begun for today and then abandoned–bed to make, dog to bathe, sanity to maintain.  The truth is crazy Kathy (crying in the corner) can’t construct a single English sentence–a decent one, that is. 

Seriously, I think my real mistake was trying to write about my childhood–too problematic for now.  I’ve had some success exploring my mental illness–bipolar disorder–(as much success as one can have in that regard) and suspect I should stick with that semi-insane option for now.  I need to do as I had planned–pick a month during the 90s, read the journal entries from those 4 weeks, watch the video-taped therapy sessions from that time, and go from there, even if “there” involves immediate admission to a state psychiatric facility (mental health humor intended). 

However, given this colossal lack of verbal success, I’ll share visually again today–this time a small color pencil drawing that, I think, images well my current struggle.

Hope you enjoy this piece and will continue to bear with me as I fight this maddening, memoir monster.

Memoir monster breathes fire.

(Click on the image to enlarge.)

To read more “Writing Neurotic” posts click here  (“Confession of a Desperate, Writing Neurotic”) and here  (“Writing Neurotic Strikes Again”).

32 thoughts on “Fighting the Memoir Monster (Another “Writing Neurotic” Post)

  1. There is no “bearing with you”. I am along for the ride. It’s a cliche but it’s true: It’s the journey not the destination. So you drive. Go wherever your mood strikes.

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    • Ah, thanks, Renee. Somehow it’s comforting to know that others have struggled as well. It helps normalize the process. Misery loves company, I guess. Really, it’s great to know I’m not alone in this adventure.

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  2. Baby steps, Kathy. Lin’s words ring true for all of us, we are here to help you on your journey. Would it help if we asked questions for you to answer. For example, right now I want to know about a GOOD memory from your childhood. Not a negative, but a positive memory.

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    • Questions are actually good, but let’s focus them on what was happening during the height of my illness. I think I need to focus there for now. What would you like to know about that time? Ask anything–maybe I should share what it was like to spend so much time in the hospital–share what that was really like–though not nearly as bad as some might think. Thanks so much, Lisa.

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      • Okay, big question, when did you know you were ill? When did you realize that you didn’t see the world the same way other people did?

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    • I thought so too. I wish there had been something between the post a day and post a week challenges. They should have had a 5 day challenge–a working week challenge. But what I found was that I had taken on that challenge even though I hadn’t officially involved myself, so I thought, what the heck. I’ll give it a try.

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  3. Here’s my guess, Kathy: You’re thinking too much about your audience. Sit down and try writing a few paragraphs just for yourself–maybe that will help you get started. Good luck! (And P.S., don’t worry about your audience. We’re here to support you, like Renee and Lin said.)

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    • Thanks so much, Maura. I love what you say about forgetting audience. Such an interesting idea, as blogging is so comment-driven! That makes sense. I don’t know why that hadn’t occurred to me! That’s why it’s so wonderful to have smart readers who think of these things!

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  4. Love Lin’s comment because it is so simple and SO true. Tackling a big and scary subject like the rocky confusion of childhood is daunting to anyone. Take it bit by bit, saying exactly how you feel, and pay no attention to how it sounds. If I have learned anything it is that the verbage hardly matters when the honest message is there.
    Cheering you on from the cow fields,
    Tori

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  5. I must agree with those who say…you should write about what you feel like writing about at any given time…it may be much to early to write about some of the more painful times in your life…many of us avoid it completely…take care my friend.

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  6. The comments about forgetting your audience really ring true. When you write for yourself and yourself alone, the honesty that manifests itself in your writing usually attracts a larger audience, anyway! I’m not one to talk (*she who checks her blog stats religiously*), but try not to let your number of hits or comments define the quality of what you write! 🙂
    Here in support,
    Dana

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    • Me too, Dana. I am so driven by those damn stats! But you are right–writing for oneself is inevitably more honest, and people respond to that, don’t they? Good point! Thanks so much for your input!

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  7. I was the peri-menopausal woman “Writing Neurotic” today too…I really wanted to come up with something “great” for my 200th post…it didn’t happen! I wrote it anyway, and I’m still alive…

    Hugs,
    Wendy

    P.S. I think the pretty colours of your “monster” make him less scary somehow…

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  8. Kathy–I’m with Maura–
    I think “audience” in the blogosphere is different than writing a book/memoir for publishing…since this is such an immediate community…whereas writing a book is a process…if that makes sense.

    I took some time away…am taking some time away…I think…because I am finding myself more interested in “producing” and posting as opposed to creating…and the more I look at the stats and produce and post, the more tied I am to the stats and all that…and **I** am lost. That is not why I started, you know? Am I a blogger…or a writer? Is there a difference? (But I didn’t come here to dump on you and ask unanswerable questions! sorry…)

    in any case…I’ll be your buddy.

    who are you writing for?

    and…isn’t it interesting how deeply we hope to be known by and through our writing…and then, note that the relationships that form…make us shy?/mute? This could just be me…

    wow. I am rambling.
    😉
    blessings
    jane

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    • Wow, Jane, really great questions! Am I a blogger or a writer? I don’t know. I’m still not sure what a blogger is/does, really. When I’ve told Sara at time, I wish I had been a journalist, she insists that I’m not a journalist, that I’m a writer. I don’t know for sure what I am, who I am, why I do what I do. Then again, maybe that’s why I write!

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  9. My brother told me recently when negative thoughts enter his head (about his physical illness) he says out loud, Clear! Clear! Clear!
    You can do this. Take it one day at a time. Babysteps. There will be many bad days, but capitalize on your moments of creativity.
    Before you know it, voila, a beautiful memoir will be in your hands.

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    • Gosh, Deanna, I hadn’t thought to focus on what it would be like to have a draft in hand! I have been so focused on the process, I’d forgotten about the product. How funny! Great point! I sure hope your brother is feeling better soon! Hugs to you, my friend!

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  10. Pingback: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Insanity but were Afraid to Ask | reinventing the event horizon

  11. I am by no means an expert in writing a memoir (or writing anything, for that matter.) And I haven’t read the other comments, so this may likely have been said already. But it seems to me that you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to do this in the way you think you have to do it, in some sort of order or with some sort of logic. My advice, take it or leave it, is just let yourself write or not write as your spirit dictates. Maybe some days you’ll write memoirs, other days not. Maybe once the pressure is off, it will come easier.

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    • I know what you’re saying makes sense–lots of sense. But when I tried that, it didn’t work–cause I never wrote–maybe because what I have to say is painful and the natural inclination is to avoid pain–if that makes sense. I think you’re right that I need to allow my self space and flexibility. The quesion is how to do that while also maintaining some pressure, a degree of accountability. That may be why the blog is so helpful. In some ways, I feel accountable to you all. I’ve made a promise. I need to deliver. Does that make sense?

      But thanks, Terri, for this comment. It’s helped me get to the accountability part. I hadn’t really thought of that before!

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