The Intimacy of Memoirs…and Beyond

Thanks to you who’ve written thoughtful notes about A Long Way from Paris. I’ve loved the goat photos,  the stories of travels in France, some stretching back to World War II, and the honesty of those  who relate to feeling “less than,” not up to par, not good enough. That’s what memoirs are about: resonating with others’ hearts and souls, revealing the parts of ourselves we often prefer to stay buried.

A student of mine recently committed suicide. She didn’t know many others in our small class, but writing memoir is an intimate process in which strangers feel strangely connected. A knot grew in my stomach, puffed like yeasty bread, and I realized I’d denied dealing with her death—truly wrestled with and accepted it—until I had to face my other students. That’s what memoir is about. Saying aloud that which we’d rather hide away; confronting our emotions that aren’t actually demons, but difficult, often painful tugs on our heart that we’d prefer not see the light of day. And yet, by speaking out loud–and here’s where the cliché comes in –by speaking our truths—we become deeper, clearer, more empathetic beings and so, too, our stories. We become models for the people we touch.

Cape Cod Pochet boardwalkMy next book is actually not a memoir. It is a mystery; a fairly light one indeed. Do you remember hearing about when Dylan was booed off the stage in Newport for switching from folk music to electric? Well, grandiose as it may sound, I feel a bit of kinship. Memoir is excruciatingly difficult to write. Next, I wanted something lighter. After all, Harriet the Spy was my favorite book growing up, I read every Nancy Drew book in fourth grade, and in college, if I felt depressed, I turned to Rex Stout. So forgive me as I switch to lighter fare. Soon you will meet Lori Orondo who’s at her wits end with her wayward son, Austin, and Amanda Perkins, a former rival from college, and Nicole Whryrll, the volatile friend and neighbor, all of whom are wrapped in the shooting of Scott, the charming pharmacy tech with a questionable past.

We all need relief now and then. You never know from whom you’ll find wisdom, but Mel Gibson (I know. Really??) said, movies should 1.) Entertain 2.) Educate 3.) Elevate. I hope the same for my books. And yes, they can even be a little fun.

Much gratitude to all. EC Murray

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