Friday, November 2, 2007

The Write Stuff

I’ve been trying to write my memoir for a long time. I think the first version, which was absolutely horrid and about 100 pages, was written in college. I called it, “Why I Hate My Mother,” and thought it was brilliant, a nod to David Peltzer whom I never read because I was still too close to my past to see it in other’s writing. I really wish I had a copy now. It was on a disk, somewhere, and none of disks from those days work anymore. Corruption.

Over the years I’ve written fiction that were thinly veiled stories of my past. A mother and two children, a girl who tries to make it on her own, is forced to become an adult by the time she can walk. Thankfully, in terms of real fiction, I’ve worked past that although similar themes show up throughout.

I started this blog as a way to get back to writing my memoirs, to figure a lot of stuff out as I go through therapy, to search for evolution of myself and my writing. But it’s the cohesion that’s eluding me.

Recently, knowing that in a couple weeks I’ll be homebound a bit, I enrolled in an online writing class. I’ve taken classes in this particular school offline in NYC, so felt confident in it. The previous instructor really helped me realize the rut I was in – that of creating a passive observer as a central character. That is – me- the child who lives internally which, while good for a bit, can’t sustain the action needed in a story.

That’s the part that gets me, thinking of my life as a story. Granted, I always have. A fairy tale, a fable whose moral I’m trying to still figure out. Something written by someone else, like the Book of Life. I dream somewhere is a giant library with a book for each and every person and I so want to break in and read the author’s notes to my book. I want to read the interviews, see what, or if, that person was even thinking of. (Yes, I saw Stranger Than Fiction and really liked it.) But where does the protagonist act? Where do I act in life? What did I do besides watch and retreat? Is that in any way interesting? Where is the narrator now, as she reflects on the story?

Maybe I’m not ready yet. I keep stalling. When I really sit down, when I really concentrate and think of all the literary devices to use, when I think of form and structure I lose it. Not mentally, I just stop a few pages in. When I stop thinking I realize I don’t want to think about such things. I’ve got bits and pieces all over. I’ve had opportunities to write, recently turning down a fellowship to go to the backwoods of the Deep South to write for four years because I felt all my writing was a lie. But I push it off. I'm afraid. It's a tough business.

This was all supposed to be a preamble to something else, but it looks like this took over.


Amel's Realm said...

Ahhh...the writing business...I used to want to write, too, but I don't know what to write. I had started writing a few stories, but when I reread them, I always felt they sucked he he he...

Sorry to hear about the story called "Why I Hate My Mother". I know what you mean...disks are easily corrupted indeed. I lost plenty of important emails 'coz of that. :-((((

HAVE FUN with your online writing class! At least you've got a tutor to help you. I'd say that just enjoy the writing process, Vic! After all, writing's supposed to be fun. ;-D

Anonymous said...

This just popped into my head... Have you thought of writing from your mother's point of view? Become - in writing - what you've experienced and perceive of your mother's thoughts, actions and interactions with you.

Just a thought. I know it's abstract, but I'm trying to spark some ideas for you.

Hammer said...

Sounds like a good project. I tried to do it but I kept running into things that I couldn't talk about without messing with people that might still be around.

heavenabove said...

Hi there! I've been busy but I do think about you yet. Funny that today I am writing you to say I awarded you an excellence in blogging award. It is intended to go to one specific blog post put you already are such a wonderful writer that I had to chose all yout posts. Also, I have tagged you with "Blogging that hits the mark" for your personal candor that touches all of us.

I am also passing on a Community Blogger Award to Amel. I do not know her well, but I love the way she encourages others, especially you Vic.

quacks like a duck said...

I don't know you well, but here's the advice I would be given by wise friends of mine (not that I would want the advice mind you).

Relax. Don't try so hard, you'll just get yourself bound up.

Amel's right, writing is supposed to be fun.

I wish I could carve a story as well as John Irving... with every sentence carefully balanced, and every word perfectly chosen.

Maybe someday. In the meantime I have to remember that I write for ME.Which is a bit unfortunate because I am my own worst critic.

Try to relax.

Rachelle said...

Wow, it never fails to amaze me how programmed to fail we who were abused are, until I read someone as talented and deserving of a great book like you talk about how uninteresting your 'mere survival' is!
(how's that for a run on sentence?? :))

Girl you survived! With dignity, and all your compassion and empathy intact. You are a contributing member of society, and a walking miracle. There's your book subject.

Start looking at your life as a huge accomplishment and a testament to the incredible human spirit and it's divine nature- despite being knocked down and stomped into the ground by the one who was given your tender spirit to nurture.

I read all of David's books, and I see many parallels to you. He did it, and so can you, and many will benefit.

Now, I'm off to give myself the same advice.... LOL!

david mcmahon said...

I don't see a problem with cohesion at all, Victorya.

All your posts can be easily linked - and they are terrific posts, too.

Yes, you can have the data on disk transferred to other storage devices. Just check with your local PC/ geek unit and there is a British company that manufactures a device to transfer stuff from old disks.

Let me know if you have any dramas. Especially with the method of linking your posts ....

Lauren at Faith Fuel! said...

Forget literary devices. Just write your story. It will be good.

Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

Have I missed something here? What surgery? Why? Are you able to find anyone else who can step up and offer some practical support as you recover? When are you going in? Good luck, sweet lady, I hope it all goes well.

I empathise with your writing plight. I now try to swerve away from using a thinly veiled biography as a foundation for any plot. Not only is it too painful, I find it restricts me, because I always end up staying too faithful to the reality of what really happened, and although it may be pertinent to me, it rarely moves the story along!

Have fun with the writing course - hope you get a lot back from it.

Victorya said...

Ugh! I'm lax in replies.

Amel - the dilemma is in my double-thinking I suppose. Anyone can write, I love the earnestness and honesty of your writing. It's really refreshing, I think we just put too much pressure on ourselves. I've read some early Vonnegut, and thought them horrid, but love his novels.

Chewy - I just don't want to go into her mind, although it would be interesting - like movies told from the killers point of view. The struggle is focusing on myself as an active participant of my past. I still feel passive about my history.

hammer - ahhhh, see, at least I stopped caring about what my mother or brother would do. My mother once told me if I wrote about the family she'd deny it all, say I'm crazy, and sue my ass. This is why I didn't start writing in earnest until recently. Now I say, bring it on bitch.

heaven - thanks! omy, I've been thinking about you too. Your early comments kept me blogging!

quack - yeah, we are our own worst critics, aren't we? Ugh, I can't stand it sometimes. Too much doubt.

Rachelle - I think something clicked with what you said, and Amel has said it before too, that this is a story of hope. I always see it as one of pain, but really, there is a happy ending. If I can wrap my mind around that, maybe I can bring some cohesion to it all, at least, some I can see. The problem I've run into before is the unrelenting violence, but there are other times.

David - thanks, I haven't in my mind figured out how they link, just categories. I have some weird ideas, would love to bounce it off you if you got an e-mail addy. okay, one idea, my only idea, and today I don't know if it's a good one or not.

lauren: Sage advice :)

Shrink - yeah, that's why I switched to either straight fiction or non-fiction, no more think veils. And the surgery, footsie surgery. One foot now, one in six months. Bad feet, sigh.

Zathyn Priest said...

I'm a writer and I also suffer from PTSD diagnosed less than six months ago.

Write from your heart and tell your story the way YOU want to tell it. The way that feels right to you, whether it slots neatly into so-called helpful writing formulas or not. Maybe even free-write the first draft and don't even think about structure until you go back to begin the subsequent drafts.

Good luck - your story deserves to be told in the way you want to tell it.