We think we are indelible. I was watching Bridges of Madison County which begins when the main characters are gone. (C’mon, it still holds some merit, right?) Their resonance is felt. I think that we have an obligation to leave that trail of resonance.
That’s why I’m writing about my great Aunt. At the recent BlogHer conference, the queen of SheWrites, Kamy Wicoff, asked me, “Do you know why you are writing your memoir?” I knew why I was writing half of it. I then applied her question to my current fictional recounting of events in my great aunt’s life.
The answer is the same: Their resonance is felt. I have an obligation to leave that trail of resonance.
I just sat down to work on the piece and it meanders into such chaos, I am not sure it will ever shape itself into something. I’m listening to Air’s Cherry Blossom Girl, over and over, hoping its “up” vibe will sweep words with it into a prolific and specific direction. I look back, which they say to never do while in the shitty first draft, and don’t even see a line of breadcrumbs. Help. Where am I in this story?
This is writing. This butt aching, left arm slightly crooked, eyes strained sitting too long scrutiny is writing. I am trying to ignore my own calculatory motivations. I want to spew. But it doesn’t feel good. It feels like failure. Like I broke a favorite dish and guests are coming and my broom’s missing.
I ordered How I write by Janet Evanovich, which I took off of a SheWriter’s blog. The first page says: Writing parts that suck is part of the writing process. So is suffering, then.
I think teaching writing hones my editing skills and inhibits the spiny, tapping, willingness to write crap. Evanovish asks us to keep asking “And then what happens?”
So now I’m asking, and then what happened? I get some really bad scene where my fictional aunt meets the guy she’s not allowed to marry at a gazebo and they dance in the moonlight. I don’t like it. His hands are rough because he works down at the San Francisco docks. She’s like a sleek, moonlit creature, smooth and silky with rose powder and the too orange red lipstick that makes her look too pretty for her own sake. They love each other, sure. And they won’t be able to engage in that love, sure. But what else???
The what else is supposed to be really cliche because I’m writing the first draft. Part of me wants to accept that. Most of me feels like I’m back in second grade, writing a cliche mystery of a haunted house. The main character says, “I-I-I-I-m not going in there!!!” I’m sure my teacher thought it was so cute. I just remember thinking that it could have been better.
Back to Bridges. It’s schlocky now, sure. But in the 80s it was all the rage. The themes are still sophisticated. The zen of travel, the isolation of travel. The isolation of farm life, its idyllic pleasures. The handing down of stories in families that focus on unrequited love. These are all true, and need to be told.
Love, in all its corniness, is so important to us. Why am I writing this story about my aunt, Kamy? I am writing it because she died without all the trappings and benefits of a life lived with love. She missed out on the transference of ideas, the holding hands and sharing of benchmark moments. We need to remember that we (those who have love) are lucky to have it.
That is why I am writing Sister Tryst. Now, my memoir is next.