My bittersweet relationship with the memoir
One month ago, I left the country for a three-week internship in Honduras. Throughout the summer and days prior to my departure, I spent time laying out the foundation of my memoir through brainstorming, researching and writing. I collaborated with several other writers to give and receive feedback on the storytelling process, while reminiscing my past with my family and discussing the moments of impact we experienced together. I dedicated as much time as I could to read and write for the 2015 Invictus Project, and with time, working on my story became a daily habit; I was hooked.
However, when I made the time to work on my memoir, I also had moments when I got easily distracted. Not because I didn’t want to work on the memoir or that it wasn’t entertaining enough but because the process was quite frightening. Some days I would write pages non-stop with light bulb moments constantly going off, and other days I would sit in my chair for hours and stare at a blank screen and maybe, just maybe, write one paragraph. Am I getting fed up with my story? What isn’t working? There’s no such thing as writer’s block! I thought to myself.
This thought process would go on and on until the Invictus Writers group and I would meet, which is when they would reassure me that I was on the right path or lead me in a different direction. (You guys are the best!)
I looked forward to my internship abroad and thought it would give me some downtime away from the project, some time to get my mind off of work, some time away from the old me to marvel at something new in my life. But I knew I couldn’t just abandon what I had started; I had no real desire to. Mostly, I was just afraid. I felt anxious about the following steps to come. There were people I still hadn’t spoken to and incomplete exposition that needs revisiting.
When I learned that I would be unplugged from the Internet in Honduras, I was honestly relieved. I saw it a good excuse to completely unplug and focus on matters in the real world, in real time.
But I thought wrong.
First off, the internship had absolutely nothing to do with journalism or writing. Every day spent without Internet meant another day without working or sharing my thoughts with other writers. Sure, I could have whipped out a Word Doc or worked offline, which I tried, but I wasn’t in the right mindset for that most of the time. I was in a different place, focused on another task and living a different way of life.
On the internship I met people who knew nothing about my past. They had no clue about my life or the moments when everything had changed. And that’s why it felt so relieving to be unplugged from the project; there was no pressure to tell someone a story that I didn’t want to revisit, remind myself of my past, or rewrite outlines to make sure my story is written to the best of my ability, so my readers can think, yes! I know the feeling. I understand.
I was so committed to writing my memoir at home that I grew frustrated with myself when I didn’t do the same in Honduras. While there, I knew I could make time to write, it was certainly possible, but a small voice kept telling me to leave it for later, don’t worry about it right now. So I caved, I got carried away with life away from home, my reality.
There is a lot of pressure that comes with writing about the human condition. Especially when you want your readers to gain insight from your personal experiences that could lead to their enlightenment and personal growth.
But sometimes, taking a break from what you love can be the greatest test to prove its significance. It did for me.