Voices From The Herd
Archive for November, 2010
A few months ago, a friend suggested that I write an autobiography. I laughed it off. After my 35th birthday and a new creative upsurge, the idea didn’t seem so foolish.
Last week I started writing an autobiography. So far, it’s been challenging, rewarding, difficult, traumatic, hilarious and informative. Thirty pages in, I’m intrigued by the personality traits and patterns that formed early on in my life and have stuck with me to this day.
Much like the next book release in the spring (Mockery) and plans to launch a web site around the same time, I’m not in a hurry to finish this memoir. Writing it takes more work (and is more exhausting) than anything I’ve ever written including the few research papers and critiques I’ve published. I’m giving this book a two year window to allow time for editing, insertion of newly surfaced memories and to make sure that it’s a polished narrative instead of a flat, factual journal.
With one or two exceptions, I’m striving to reveal everything about my life including the names of people I’ve known, experiences that I’ve had (complimentary to my character or derogatory) and sordid details along the way unless they would cause harm to others.
Looking back on 35 years of life, I finally feel like I have enough source material to write an autobiography. It’s a good vantage point to look back at what I’ve accomplished, where I’ve made grave mistakes, how many friendships I’ve lost, how many relationships have been botched and what sort of small triumphs I’ve had, and how I can learn from these experiences. I’ve been trying to walk a fine line between peppering the dialogue with historical references, local references, and pop culture mentions without resorting to a Norman Mailer-esque diatribe of over-description. Working on it so far has been cathartic and amusing.
It’s funny to think that at a time when I’ve genuinely stopped caring about my career as a writer and stopped trying so hard, things are beginning to fall into place. The next 35 years are sure to be unpredictable and interesting. Unlike my essays, this project will stay in the dark until it’s completed. You’ll just have to be patient and trust that it’s worth reading. It’s always been said that you should write what you know. My unique upbringing, my psychological condition and my experiences as a writer are certainly worth further inspection.
Toiling away on something new,