From Comics to Memoir

I'm not much of a fan of comics, but I found this article about J. Michael Straczynski interesting. If you've not heard of him (I hadn't), Straczynski is a writer who grew up in a terrible home environment. His memoir, Becoming Superman, is about his childhood and his eventual transition to a life far removed from growing up under the roof of a Nazi sympathizer.

Memoirs hold a certain fascination for me. Whether a person considers her life story (or even part of her life story) compelling or ordinary, I think we can all take something of value from someone else's experiences. Had a baby? Somewhere a woman just found out she's expecting and is looking for another mother's reassurance. Experiencing infertility? There's a couple out there wondering how they'll ever get through it. Divorce? Remarriage? Career change? Loss of a loved one? Entrepreneur? The list is endless, but know that someone, somewhere can benefit from your experiences.

So, that's what I've been reminding myself of lately. Granted, I don't think I have an incredible or amazing story, but I've had a few experiences and there's a part of my life that I think I want to tell. I say "think I want to" because it's hard to strip off that outer shell and show people what's underneath. I've been reading Amy Tan's Where the Past Begins, A Writer's Memoir. During her talk at the Rutger's University-New Brunswick conference in June, she explained that she often weaves her real life experiences into her fiction. I thought about taking that route. There's a lot less exposure that way.

But, this particular story of mine won't go away. It sits there in a back corner of my mind waiting to be told. As I toy with it, turning it this way and that, examining it under my microscope of uncertainty, I throw it in the garbage several times a week. No one wants to read it, I think. Or, my kids wouldn't want me to tell this story. Or, my husband won't want people to know. And I skirt around it one more time for one more day.

Last night, I added "work on memoir" to my calendar. It's a recurring event that I've slated for first thing each day with no end date in sight. It's morning now and thirty-three minutes into my day. Have I written a single word? Nope. But I did come across this article about ordinary memoirs. It seems familiar. I also woke up to an email from a woman I met at Rutger's last month. It's a reply email to one I'd written her where I asked about the memoir she's working on. Coincidences? Or signs that I need to get my butt in the chair and my fingers to the keyboard? Perhaps a little of both. It also occurred to me yesterday that it's only June. Meaning I can surely get this memoir written, edited, and published before the end of the calendar year. Five months is a long time, so I challenge myself to have it written and polished by the end of October because NaNo isn't any fun unless you start with a shiny new project.

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