Let me start off by saying that I don't consider myself a writer. When my husband suggested that I start writing autobiographical stories with the intent of working them into a book, I tried to put him off by insisting that I am not a writer. He pointed out that I had been writing a blog for the past several years, albeit sporadically, so I allowed that he had a point and I decided to try. He hinted that writing these stories would be good for me and that the process would help me to better understand myself, even if they never got published.
Sifting through long forgotten stories of my childhood and writing on a daily basis, I have become obsessed with following the threads of my memories, one leading to another. I start pulling on a single, seemingly trivial strand, but then I discover that it's attached to a larger strand; that one in turn is attached to an even bigger one. Sometimes, I find have I have tugged a whole, long forgotten piece of my past into view, one thread at a time.
I find that I doubt my own memories, wondering if my mind has confused situations or invented places that never existed or were in different times and places than I remember them. Was there really a carousel at Lincoln Park? Didn't my father like to eat Chinese food at a little diner on the lower floor of Grand Central Market?
I spend most of my weekdays - the days when I write - walking around like a zombie, my head filled with images and scenes from over forty years ago. Some of the darker stories still have the power to break me. I had to leave the supermarket the other day because I couldn't stop crying, thinking about one of many terrible incidents involving my parents. That day was emotionally exhausting and I realized that forcing myself to write these memories is a form of catharsis for me, in much the same way performing onstage with the Bags was.
Not all memories are dark and heavy. Thanks to my mother (once again) who saved all of our old family photos in albums, I have the ability to flip through pages of my history. Yes, there's the neighbor family just as I remember them; there's the old carousel at Lincoln Park, it did exist. The photographic images spur memories and then I sit down to write the stories as fast as they come to me.
My work in progress is called Violence Girl and you can read it here.