I loved writing my memoir. It gave me an excuse to haul out fourteen years of personal journals. I wrote faithfully every day — sometimes multiple times a day. I was a lonely and troubled soul and the journals were a great comfort to me. They always listened and they were always there for me to read when I needed company — even if the “company” was simply myself.
I was a natural for writing memoir because I was (and still am) my favorite topic. In graduate school, I struggled to discover my “voice” as a writer, when there it was all along in those journals. The young selves of many of my friends were captured in those pages as well.
I loved all of them so much. They were the center of my world and a significant part of my journaling was simply to preserve moments in time with them. Reading my journals from 1979 to 1992 was like having a reunion with those people. When I finished the journals, I sat on the steps and cried because the people on those pages were every bit as wonderful as I remembered them.
The other joy of writing the memoir was turning myself into a character. I loved poking fun at my naive, histrionic teenage self. What a pain in the ass I was! As I was writing the book, I asked my friends and former classmates if they could remember any annoying stuff I did back then. They all said they didn’t remember anything bad. I think they were just being tactful.
Some of the things I wrote were so ridiculous, I howled with laughter as I read them. Young idiot me was funny! The more I made fun of myself, the more enjoyable the writing became.
I’ll leave you with this gem. It’s based on a God-awful poem I wrote after breaking up with my first boyfriend.
Years from now, students will read this poem in their literature books, I tell myself. I imagine my bio in the margin, telling how modern literature’s most sensitive, insightful, heartbreaking poem was inspired by my high school boyfriend dumping me. The bio would give his full name, so readers would know who to blame (and possibly send hate mail to). Beneath the bio would be a picture of me, really old, like in my thirties, but I’d still be totally beautiful. In the end, I’d have realized that breaking up was the best thing that could have happened to me. How else could I have written a world-famous poem that made me the envy of writers everywhere?
I’m not a world-famous writer — yet. It could still happen. But I promise you, that poem will never see the light of day.