No, I’m not planning a memoir. I like memoirs and have read many, but I don’t think that a memoir (or autobiography) is the only way a writer tells her story. The mixing & melding of fiction & fact, memory & dream, daydreams & nightmares, aspirations & fears, that find their way into fiction have to start someplace and THAT is inside the writer’s imagination, stored away in a library of story ideas.
My library does not have a Dewey Decimal System. The stories are jumbled up, shaking loose like the paper snowflakes in a souvenir globe, and falling in new arrangements, with new connections and new conclusions, all the time. I draw from this messy collection when telling the stories of fictional characters. They are part of me, but not me.
I think that this is my way of telling my story.
For about a year—since right before my mother died—I’ve been scribbling a series of strange stories about death. Not about the act of dying or about where we go—or don’t go—when we die, but about what and who death leaves behind.
As the year has rolled by, the stories have accumulated. They are not all done. They are not all brilliant, either, but… some are poignant, some are dark, some are funny, some contain elements of magic, some are mysterious, some are simply shaggy dog stories about the STUFF that remains after a loved one is gone and how those piles of things—and piles of important papers—can bury the living, complicate relationships, and carry strange legacies into succeeding generations.
The dead are gone, but not forgotten and sometimes their choices echo in death’s wake. I hope that by the end of this year, I’ll be able to look at the mishmash of stories and find a thread that pulls them together into a coherent book worth sharing. Are the stories about me? No, but yes, too because this is how I tell my story—in the voices of the characters I’ve created.
Authors, are you the characters you create? Are they pieces of you? Readers, do you believe you are meeting the writer in the characters? Please share your ideas right here!