In early July, I began a ten week online memoir writing class through Gotham Writer's Workshop. Most of my classmates - many of whom have lived extraordinary lives - came to this course with a specific story to tell. I did not. After all, my life is pretty ordinary. I just figured memoir was the literary genre closest to what I do here* and it seemed an excellent opportunity to sharpen my storytelling ability. I looked forward to reading lectures and writing short weekly assignments. But when it came time to submit a lengthier piece for peer critique, I didn't have a plan.
And then I remembered, "Oh yeah, there's That One Thing." I am vaguely referring to my most traumatic personal experience. The matter is prickly enough that I don't want to discuss it here, not yet anyway. But I've long desired to tell this story and I do intend to publish it. So, kudos to me for taking the balls out approach!
It's been a crushing exercise in self expression. I submitted the first draft four weeks ago. My classmates' comments definitely helped me mold a much better revision, but the sense that I'd misrepresented myself in the initial version still irks me. As a blogger, I've developed a voice that's familiar to my readers. More to the point, pretty much everyone who's read this blog already knows me, or at least something about me. Writing life stories for strangers requires a thorough and articulate self awareness that's quite fucking tricky to learn. I had no idea what a novice I am.
I submitted the second draft on Monday. This is my last chance to get my classmates' feedback, for which I'm dreadfully unready. I'm afraid of being misunderstood again and, at the same time, I don't want this grueling experience to be over. I'm already exhausted from writing the piece itself, which is packed full of sensitive details I've not shared with anyone before. All these weighty feelings seem to devour my energy. And when you add the rest of my course work and the rest of my life to the deluge, I've scarcely any pep for posting on this here blog.
All of which is to say, I'm still here. Just wanted to let you know what I've been doing.
*It's actually quite different, but that's another subject.