Writing My Memoir
|Copyrighted art work by Betty Ann Fraley|
I am writing a memoir. It is a bumpy ride, but I must follow this road to fruition. Part of the difficulty of this task is well stated by Lynne Sharon Swartz, who said,”There's nobody out there waiting for it, and nobody’s going to scold you if you don’t do it.”
I write because I have a burning desire to record stories that teach life lessons and the morals of the years I lived. The critic within replies, “ Who cares about your stories?”
I respond, “ I do.” I want my children and grandchildren to know that my writing represented the truths I discovered as I followed my journey. I want others to read and relate with the stories and realize a universal truth, understand the plight of the poor, and the benefits of obstacles. In my memoirs I embrace the stories I learned from my students, my new husband, and my emotional truths learned as a first year teacher integrating the New Orleans schools. We found valuable relationships in this Black community. We learned love and hate, sadness and joy, hope and despair.
My book pulls back the layers of our first year of marriage and reveals some harsh truths and some open laughter. Our students gave us ten years of experience in our first year of teaching. I have to be truthful. Sometimes writing is more painful than I anticipated. Sometimes it is freeing. The process is tedious and sometimes lonely. I may get discouraged, but the drive within continues to “push” me back to the computer to write, reveal, recollect, and recount this experiences in 1967.
“Writing a book is like driving a car at night. You only see as far as your headlights go, but you can make the whole trip that way,” E.L. Doctorow That is how I write. I can see an event that revealed a truth and gave meaning to my life. I work the event trying to describe the emotions and challenges of just that day. Just one day of my year of teaching in the inner city or one day in learning to live with a “permanent” roommate or one day of coping with my students' life of poverty, physical and emotional illness, street fights , and daily hunger.
One day at a time at my computer is all I can manage. One day turns into a week of writing, editing, and rewriting. If I just wrote one page a day, my book would be 365 pages long. It is amazing what just working day by day can achieve in writing or discovering my own perseverance.
My novel dictates my thoughts and my schedule. I must leave dishes unwashed, my calendar blank by saying no to lunches, shopping dates, or even visits with friends. I know this is a season. As my book progresses, so will autumn and winter. I am learning to deflect less important activities and not waste time. When I try to watch mindless TV, the critic within reminds me I am wasting myself as well.
My critic is the most strenuous boss I have known. His praise is nil. His criticism is loud and screaming. It is strange how he guilts me into “keep writing”; yet, he doesn’t think my writing is valuable. Sometimes my critic discourages me, but he doesn’t stop me.
I know I am writing this story from my soul. My soul is eternal, so it knows no time or space. My heart reminds me why I must write. My head uses its creative source to get it on paper. So, with my soul, heart , and head I must continue.