(I'm not a musician.) I was taught as a child that I must not 'blow my own trumpet' as in talking about myself – especially not to say anything good about myself. I was also taught that much of what I could say about myself was nonsense and I needn't expect anyone to believe it. If I myself believed it, I must be insane. If not, I was obviously a liar. Telling my story, therefore, became a very confronting task. I am now in my late seventies, as I begin this blog, and it is only a preparation – things I write on the way to writing the memoir.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Why do it?

Because so many people have asked me. They want to know how I became psychic and witchy and magical and all that.

That's not all they want. I have in fact written two memoirs, sort of, as blogs: 'Shifting Fog: Dwelling with Dementia' and 'The Widowhood Chronicles'. People tell me they are useful, and ask me to publish them as books.

But they're not really books yet, just chronological outpourings. The widowhood one isn't finished, and in reality never will be, in the living of it, until I too die ... but I suppose I can find some arbitrary but logical-seeming end point. The other is misleading in its title, as the dementia turned out to be only a small part of Andrew's decline.

But the raw material is there.

So this new raw material I'm embarking on here will obviously be something other than those two experiences.

Will it be the 'spooky' memoir, full of magic and mystery and other-dimensional realities? Or will it be the many loves of Rosemary, licit and illicit? Or the dark family secrets? Or the time in prison? Maybe the lot!

(After all, if Goodreads can refer to T E Lawrence's 400,000-word The Seven Pillars of Wisdom as a memoir ... though I guess it qualifies, being only about that particular period of his life.)

I don't know yet which direction mine will take. Perhaps I'll find out in writing these preliminaries – like a friend who thought she was going to write about the witchy aspect of her life and found herself delving deep and often painfully into the story of mothering an autistic son – with a sense of absolute necessity. Some of us have particular stories that demand to be told before we can go on to write others.

Who knows? I'll just dive in and write whatever shows up to be written when I come to the page. I've tried organising it neatly before – hopeless.

Again, why do it? I have wondered! It needs to be something for me, not just to satisfy other people, or it'll never work. I have thought of doing it in poetry, and perhaps I will in the end, even though I think that would be bound to leave some gaps. Or maybe I'll just punctuate it with poems. Or have the poems be most of it, with only thin threads of connecting prose narrative.

No, that's not the why but the how of doing it.

I must want to at some level, or I wouldn't be playing with the idea. But every time I have tried in the past, it has proven so confronting – to me, not others – that I have abandoned it.

Recently I thought it might work to do it in the third person: maybe that wouldn't seem so scary. 
(So the how is important in resolving my issues with doing it in the first place.)

Finally I asked 'Upstairs' to give me a sign. 

'Should I do a memoir' I asked, 'or stick to my poetry?' (which is mostly confessional anyway, and which I enjoy). 


'Let me know within 48 hours,' I said. 

Within 48 hours I had not one but several signs.  Here they are, as noted in my personal journal:


1) A post in my emails, about memoir writing, jumped out at me.

2) Going through old files and posts this morning, came across a time line I'd made of events in my life, as preparation for memoir writing. (It didn't register at first, in this context, as my mind was on other things.)

3) Morning 2: Goodreads quote was T. E Lawrence, with a story about him losing the original ms of his 400,000 word memoir while travelling, and recreating the whole thing in 30 days. (Fancy calling The Seven Pillars a memoir! But I suppose it is, really.)

4) The Goodreads quote was a beautiful one: 

I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands / and wrote my will across the sky in stars

Reading it, I thought I understood why the last couple of nights I have been dreaming of people who were once very important in my life, but are no longer in it – through death, or moving in different directions. Memoir material, for sure. Not only have I had these dreams, I have remembered them in detail, without even writing them down after waking. I almost never remember my dreams.

So I am doing it because  Someone Up There tells me I should. Whether that's my Higher Self, or God, or The Universe, no matter – I asked, and I got told. OK, here we go!

Some people's names I will change, probably to nicknames or labels, for their and their families' privacy. With other people, e.g. my husbands, there's no hiding them – they're known.

I won't even try to put it in any particular order yet.

6 comments:

  1. I love this, Rosemary! Listening in on your ruminating gives me another way back to my autobiographical novel that I keep procrastinating although it has been a definite burning bush calling. Except my instrument is the trombone, and I have one also calling me to get on with it. And that writing residency coming up in January, February and March is about this. It's a bit more than an itch that must be scratched and less than a reason to live an obsessed and frenzied life. Bless you!

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    1. I'll await your further developments with great interest!

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  2. I much enjoyed reading your opening post as you start your journey. Thank you for inviting us.

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  3. I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands / and wrote my will across the sky in stars

    I can see why this quote inspired you and was recognized as a sign.. your voice here comes across so clear and authentically that I feel as though we are sitting together having a cuppa ... <3 <3

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  4. Can't wait to catch the crumbs, like a bird at your window. :)

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