I’m re-emerging from hours of writing, feeling like a true conqueror at having drafted the next two chapters of Nightfall in Verona–– my memoir about a trip to Europe in 1973.
The writing process is filled with amazements and epiphanies. When you’re writing about something that happened so many years ago, you can’t possibly remember in high fidelity, as it were, how things were exactly, you must approximate. Surely this is permissible within the parameters of memoir. I’m not talking about the big things, that the journey really did take place, the adventures and the turning points.
I am speaking primarily of the reconstruction of dialogue in accordance with strands of conversation as I remember them. I have to do this, to bring the people in my story to life, to give them dimension. I think I’m doing a good job.
Then there is the fact-checking, to be sure that I don’t make someone who has followed the same geographical route laugh. It’s hard enough to believe in yourself and your work, without all of that.
For example in reconstructing one leg of our journey I had to crosscheck a pass over the Alps, and the lay of the land regarding where Germany and Austria meet, how we got to Italy from Austria.
Yesterday I read some caveats that scared me about writers who couldn’t get a work of fiction published, and passed it off as memoir and were then published and lauded. Evidently publishers are vetting for facts, double-checking to be sure people aren’t lying in telling a dramatic story. This raises any number of questions and concerns for me. Weigh in on this!
I’ve had in mind too a work of fiction written as memoir, which is a tried and true technique used by a number of great writers. For now I’m keeping the character and her story secret.
A burgeoning issue in writing this piece is, well, sex. Steamy or not? Delicate touch, or voluble, open?
Sometimes, we have that songbird within us but we keep her locked up. We think that what we have to say is trivial, or that the publishing market is so glutted and in such disarray that there’s no point.
I don’t know about you, but I know that every day, I have to open that cage and tell her that she is free to fly and to sing.