Tuesday, December 11, 2018
I've recently begun writing a memoir. It's not official, because I'm not sure I have enough to say, but I've been working on it for a bit, and thinking about it more. At this point it's a very rough draft, and seems closer to a coming-of-age story than anything else. It also needs a lot of work.

The story begins in high school when my father was diagnosed with cancer. He died one month before I graduated. While my high school experience was different from that of my friends, I believe it's a story worth sharing. Part of it may serve as an apology for ignoring some important aspects of my life, and other parts may explain my less-than-stellar behavior and study habits.

I also consider it a healing journey. Outwardly, I handled the situation with grace. Inwardly, however, I was kind of a mess. When I began college I didn't do well, and it took a while for me to get back on track. Within that context, the word journey feels right.

I've figured out a lot of what I want to say, but came to a complete halt this past weekend when I heard one simple question: why? Why write a memoir? Why is this important, and why would people want to read it? After some soul-searching, I realized many people have a similar story to tell. I hear my own students talk about their own issues with family, and see comparisons. So why me? What do I have to say that others haven't already?

And then it hit me. Even though there are many stories like mine, maybe my story will help someone. That simple answer was enough to keep me going.

Mary Horner has begun a memoir that she hopes will help someone else dealing with a difficult situation.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Mry--You hit on the exact answer I was going to shout back at you. The path you took, the choices you made, the lessons you learned... You have the chance to help others by telling your story.

(And don't forget: a great writer can tell an ordinary story in an extraordinary way.)

Good luck. Carve out 15 or 30 minutes, or an hour--every day. You'll get your story told.

Unknown said...

Thanks Sioux, it took me a long time to decide to do one, and then I just began so I wouldn't forget, but now I think that there is a bigger purpose.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Woo-hoo, Mary! Fellow memoirist! I'm so excited to hear you're writing a memoir. I just wrote 50k of my memoir draft during NaNo just to get some issues out of my system. I don't advise writing memoir that fast because it's so emotionally taxing. I broke down in week two from writing 2-4k a day and diving into emotional issues, so I agree with Sioux...writing for a short period of time every day is a better way to go. I'm also writing a coming-of-age memoir, and one that deals with grief (my mom's suicide), abandonment and becoming an "orphan," and how I became involved with an abusive man for three and a half years. I often think about why I'm writing it. It's definitely for my own healing, but I think I have a unique perspective (and you do, too), and like you, I hope that my story will help someone else who is going through something similar. When I was thirteen, I wished I could find a memoir of a girl whose mother committed suicide at a similar age, and there wasn't anything. I still haven't found anything exactly like that. I did find Motherless Daughters and one mention of suicide at twelve, and at the time, that paragraph saved my life. You never know how important your writing will be to someone else, and how specific details, age, time periods matter to someone, and how your words might even save their life...save them from not feeling so alone in the world. :)

Mary Horner said...

Thanks, Angela, for your supportive words, and sharing your story. I see so many young people suffering in silence, and then acting out because they don't know what to do with their emotions that keep building until something "breaks." I wish I had had a story to help me, and the fact that one paragraph saved you is remarkable, and speaks to the healing power of connecting through words. Can't wait to read your memoir!

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