My Secrets on Display
As most of you know, I’ve been working on my memoir for the better part of two years now. This memoir is (currently!) titled Too Pretty To Be Good, taken from a quote my grandmother once said about my grandfather, a man whom I’m supposed to take very much after.
Although I’m hundreds upon hundreds of pages deep in raw content and about halfway done in polished prose, I am not yet finished with this epic undertaking. My goal is to have a completed, beautiful draft by the end of this year. When will it be published? 2020, maybe? Not sure.
In the meantime, however, I’d like to share with you some excerpts from my memoir–as well as my journey writing it, which has been one of the most profound exercises in humbling self-awareness I have ever undertaken.
Writing your life story is no big deal–you just have to figure out the meaning of your life first!
And whether you’re “a writer” or not, the exercise of writing your story…is something I highly recommend. More on that later.
For now–a few thoughts on what this process hath wrought in my life…
I read a quote somewhere that said, “Writing a memoir would be a narcissistic task, if only it weren’t so humbling.”
As a girl, I fantasized about being an artist, obsessed and brilliant and agonized, creating works so raw and true that my readers would see in my words blood spilled on the page and think, “Yes, this is my blood, as well.”
I wanted to view my life as one in which I was a hero.
Yet instead–the deeper I get, the more this story becomes one of hard self-reflection, and perhaps most heartbreakingly, the knowledge that some of the most delicious human experiences now reside firmly in the past, no longer accessible for this woman-of-a-certain-age. It’s scary, to witness the fire with which I’ve lived this life–the stages I’ve starred upon–the wild abandoned love that can exist only in the hearts of the innocents, the children who haven’t turned cold yet–and think:
That is all lost to me now?
In our youths, we lose things we cherish–lovers, friends, family–and we assume, well, maybe one day, again.… I’m thirty-seven. Practically forty. And now, I realize–that “maybe one day” has arrived, and I don’t suppose I’ll be showing up in the rain on someone’s doorstep as I planned decades ago to remind him that once, we loved with such tenderness and fury that I can still see every detail of his face when he’d make love to me, when he’d weep, when he’d laugh; I can still count the points of the star tattooed on his arm–and despite all promises made in my heart 20 years ago when we bitterly parted, here I am now with a whole big life, and I suppose I will not be showing up on any doorsteps in the rain.
Among other plans I made in my heart at twenty-three.
I never expected this project to gut me. I expected to show up as a hero, aflame with righteous indignation.
But it turns out, the greatest lesson in understanding yourself–
May just be in the willingness to let that hero image go, and allow your true self, clad in flaws and regret and all the things you’ll never have, to take the stage, point to your messy heart, and say, “Yes, I too have one of these.”
I will be sharing excerpts from my memoir as well as my writing journey once a month for the next several months. Along with these excerpts, expect the occasional tip on how to tell your own story–it’s an activity I really recommend for everyone interested in personal growth this year.