As promised, I'm going to reveal a juicy nugget from my recent conversation with my aunt. I spoke with her as part of the research I'm doing for my memoir. In recent posts, I stated that I had only snippets of memories to go on. I've since read articles on memoir writing and was heartened to learn that it's fine to jump around a bit and go back and forth with the timeline. This seems to work well with what I'm laying out and affords a bit of reprieve to some of my more heavy-duty scenes.
But before I reveal that golden nugget with which I plan to open my memoir, I'm plugging an essay of mine that just appeared in an online publication called Blended Future Project. The piece is titled "Person of Color" and provides a snapshot into my contemplation of race from an early age. To read it, click here.
Now, back to my memoir project. I recently spoke with my aunt for the first time in years. She started our two-and-a-half conversation with a recollection of when she and her younger sister (both teenagers and younger than my mother at the time) were on their way to my home to babysit me and my younger sister. I was about five, but I have no memory of being babysat by them. Anyway, my aunt began this way: "I knew something was wrong when I saw you sitting on the curb two blocks from your home. I said, 'Look at the baby! Why is she sitting by herself in the street?'" My aunt then proceeded to begin another story without elucidating what was "wrong" in my home. Though I had a pretty good idea, I stopped her in her tracks and asked her to expand. I wanted objective confirmation of my suspicion.
When I subsequently sat down to write the opening chapter of my memoir, I called upon the old adage that a good story starts in medias res—in the middle of the action. I ended up using what is undoubtedly the most poignant of my childhood memories—my separation from my mother. My aunt's moving tidbit about finding me on a street curb also fits the bill, but I'm using it later in the first chapter (yes, I've already written several chapters).
I was once told by a writing instructor that I'm a master at creating tension. I'm sure there was some hyperbole involved there, but I like to think he was on to something. In the interest of keeping you hanging, that's all I'm disclosing at this point. But please don't hate on me! I've certainly opened Pandora's box, so let this be an indication of how much suspense you can expect in my memoir. This won't be easy, but I'm going to push through this journey of reliving heartache and pain with the goal of coming through transformed for the better. That journey and transformation will, hopefully, also be had by my readers.
Meanwhile, I'll give myself a bit of sage advice: Take deep breaths, and then get on with it...