April 7, 2009

Self-imposed constraints

I'm trying to work up to writing memoir pieces about people who have been in my life since I was less than 10 years of age. This feels trickier to me because: 1) those earliest paths are so well-worn in my mind that they're easy to write about--they almost write themselves, and 2) I have no qualms writing about my parents and grandparents and my very earliest friends. It feels stickier, however, to write about people more recently in my life--especially given that I am submitting these pieces for publication and working up to a book. I'd love to talk to other memoir writers about how their subjects deal with showing up in their pieces.

I have one very emotional piece that I wrote about 2 1/2 years ago that I haven't had the courage to make public. Parts of it are so dark--and all of it is so personal--that I'm not sure I can bear it. I keep thinking I should just do it quick and get it over with. Like pulling off a band-aid. But then I remember that it's not just me that it has the power to hurt, and I stop.

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