Wednesday, January 9, 2008
For those of you who don't know, I'm writing a book. It's a memoir of sorts. In June of 1969 I worked as a VISTA Volunteer in Houston,Texas. My book is a memoir of that experience and that era.
It has been a fascinating process to write this book with the help of a journal I kept so many years ago. I'm thankful that I did write in it with some frequency but here and there I wish I'd filled in some gaps. That leaves my memory to do that work. My writing group seems impressed that I have been able to recall and illustrate so much in a fairly seamless way. That's the good news. What is so frustrating, at times, is the way the memory plays tricks. Sometimes names and faces don't merge. Occasionally the names evaporate altogether. But there are times when the event or person is astonishingly clear. Fortunately I have a few friends that can corroborate my recollections from time to time.
Writing on a computer, with the ability to research various places, ideas, events instantly on the internet has made my task easier. As you know, it's possible to find what you are looking for more often than not. And then there is the problem of tension. "More tension," says a member of my group in his critique. I know it'll come. I know the experiences that have yet to be written. I know he's right, but for one who lives life avoiding tension, it 's difficult to accommodate that request. It's a memoir; I can't make it up. It occurs to me, however, that anytime we dig up the past, tension happens. After I get the bones of my story down, I'll get inside my head and the tension will follow. It's all part of the process.