That’s how I felt as I approached trying to write both memoirs—Don’t Call Me Mother and Song of the Plains. I tried to push aside completing my first book because it was painful to drop into the past again and revisit scenes of abuse and loss when I was a child, though I relished the happy moments with family, my cello teacher, and friends. I didn’t think I could write; I was afraid to put things on the page that were true but unspoken. I knew that my family would severely criticize me for it—if they were alive. But even though they weren’t, it was still a challenge to keep writing through the layers of time. I worried about being exposed about my life and my crazy family if I were to finish the book, which lead to twelve years or writing and rewriting before I felt I could let it go. There was shame, too, in having lived through some of the events in the book. Do any of these concerns go through your mind about your memoir?
A couple things kept me going: I wanted to write a book that would support other people who had grown up either abandoned or lost to help them seek healing and resolution. And, I wanted to write the book I had looked for on the shelves as I lived through my story.
When it was finally published, I discovered that I was part of a larger community of people, all who had been silenced and were afraid to speak their truths, but gradually, there was permission through writing memoir, a fairly new genre when I started writing, to write the stories that no one knew. The stories where I was the only witness. Through being able to be connected by the Internet, and social media like Facebook, communities have been built that share similar issues and themes.
To learn more about my new book Song of the Plains, please visit http://lindajoymyersauthor.com
Writing your story will change you! As you are writing your story, perhaps you already have experienced a shift in perspective about your life, your family, and the events you lived through. Our stories carry a wisdom we didn’t know we had. Memoir makes its demands on us, pressing us for stories we’ve never written before, leading us into moments and memories as we drop into another time and place. To write a memoir means to wrestle with truth. We are the narrator and witness to the life we’ve lived. Writing a memoir means that we learn how to move through time as we draw upon writing craft to create a world the reader can relate to, a world that brings them into the magic of a story.
To support your journey into memoir, I hope you can join us this May for two major memoir events at the National Association of Memoir Writers.
First, our NAMW Member monthly webinar, May 12. Structure is such a challenge, and Beth Barany is going to offer several possible solutions that can solve the puzzle of structure for your memoir.
I’m thrilled to present our FREE NAMW Memoir Telesummit Webinar on Friday, May 19. This talented and well known group of presenters will talk about truth, trauma, resilience and how to tackle challenging themes. Join us for a memoir event that can change your life, for the better!
May 19, 2017
Free Day Long event: 10 AM/1PM to 2 PM/5 PM
As memoirists, we have to struggle with “the truth.” When we write our stories, we search to discover and reveal various angles of the truths in our lives. As complex humans, there are multiple and sometimes paradoxical truths—love and hate, letting go/holding on, attraction/repulsion desire and rejection of intimacy, and countless other opposites that are part of life. In our stories, one scene may highlight one aspect of truth, and then in another we’re someone else. The characters in our stories may have conflicting presentations and we feel complex emotions about these real people who become our “characters.” In a world that asks for us to have a single opinion or reaction that defines, writing a memoir and facing its complexities can get challenging. Sometimes we’re tempted to give up. As one of my students said, “I keep changing my mind about what I think and feel each time I write my story. I need to know what position I should take. Shouldn’t I have this all sorted out by now?”
The secret to writing a memoir is that it’s more of a journey and a process than a single destination. We are always becoming and learning as we write. In writing a memoir we uncover surprises, some of which we don’t want to know about. As I wrote both Don’t Call Me Mother and my new memoir, Song of the Plains, I encountered bumpy emotional rides. In my new memoir, I tried to pull back even deeper layers of truth that I either couldn’t write about yet in my first one, or I couldn’t bear to share with the world. By investigating our story, new truths were revealed. Today we are going to investigate truth—how to find it, why we try to avoid it, and what to do when it speaks deeply to us, body and soul.
Join this FREE special webinar on May 19 with these deep and engaging presenters who have agreed to spend time with us. The day will be one of exploration and insight, and I hope you will find support and inspiration for your own work through this special event.