Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Avoiding Work by Working

I should be working on a couple short stories, but can't get motivated. So I'm avoiding it by working on a memoir based novel.

I enjoy reading memoirs like Michelle Tea's Rent Girl, or Augustine Burrough's Running With Scissors, but having lived through my life once already, there are parts I'm uncomfortable revisiting. What I find interesting - in a detached, self-aware kind of way- is that while I have no problem admitting that I attempted suicide a number of times as a teenager, my failure at it embarrasses the hell out of me. Go figure.

The parts that make me squirm are supposed to be the best parts, but I'm comfortable discussing some very private sexuality/gender identification issues, whereas I find myself stopped cold at revealing the gender of a cousin who, unlike me, was successful at suicide.

And then there is the small problem of telling other people's stories. Is it invasive to talk about a relative who was committed to state facilities a number of times? (There are times when my family is way too Southern Gothic for words.) Or does talking about it shed light on how widespread and widely ignored the problem of rampant depression is in my family? (My parents seemed to believe that saying, "Snap out of it" was adequate treatment.) And what about the kids I hung with in high school who had sexuality issues of their own? Is it fair to open the closet door when they shut it firmly on themselves? I don't think it is. On the other hand, only that very small group of people might recognize themselves, and chances are that if they're that far in the closet still, they won't pick up a book about gender identification.

I guess you could say I'm struggling with my demons, but truthfully, I'm trying to figure out the difference between what I thought was normal family life and those quirky things that make normal people raise their eyebrows. As I reveal bits to writer friends, I'm learning that there's quite a bit of material there. Is that a blessing or a curse?

1 comment:

Peanut Shells said...

A blessing, by far.

I don't think it is wrong to write about true people and true events as long as you lie and change the characters name as well as change any info that my implicity or explicity identify that person for the smarmy slut they really are. And by smarmy slut, I really mean everyone.