Monday, August 20, 2012

More-than-memoir and the co-arising of a book

The day before my writers critique group (we meet about every other week) I always feel a little edge added to my work. What I have been sharing these past many months is what I call my "more-than-memoir," using the multi-generational story of my family to open up some deeper reflection on the culture and the many layers of impasse and crisis at which we have arrived.

In this story of my parents and their ancestors, and what was passed down to my generation, I think I have found a key to why it is so hard for us to look at the mess we have made of our world - and change how we live accordingly before things really get out of hand.
My parents, Mary Rose & Steve

The mess is getting pretty serious now, as we know from two years of weather extreme after weather extreme, the infernos in the West, the deepening drought that is sadly only herald of worse to come, the changing economy that has thrown more people permanently out of work, depressed wages, and brought millions more of our own people into poverty, to join the hundreds of millions around the planet.

Can writing serve the purpose of helping us take an honest look at ourselves, how it is we have arrived at such a moment?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Truth sometimes comes hard...

Being truthful, having a voice that can be trusted - tried and true advice for the writer. But it don't come easy, as they say.

What I call my more-than-memoir doesn't come easy right now. You break open old stories, old narratives, and find them still laden with the intensity of the time in which they were composed. You realize why some of these 'truths' get buried in some deep dark place, those places where we try to make the pain, the fear, the embarrassment inaccessible.

Now you have to access them - in order to be truthful.

And yet you still play around with all that truth, because not all truth should be told to the world. One gets tired of some of that confessional stuff that can be rather indulgent or mean (or sometimes simply made up) that so often accounts for memoir these days.We are a self-indulgent culture in the extreme, and not all stories merit that space on our shelves or in our e-readers or in our psyches.