Not too long ago I wrote a section in my memoir–actually it is currently at the end–about volunteering at the Children’s Grief Center. It feels like the end in a way, like this is the place I ended up on my emotional journey of Reconstructing My Mother.
But as I re-work my prose, much of it written in 2006 or 2007, I realize I have a different perspective on those events. That perspective, that time of writing voice is clearly informed by my work at the Children’s Grief Center. I knew this, but when Greg suggested that this section be the beginning I was resistant. I love chronological order. It makes sense to me, and anything that messes with the time space continuum really makes my brain hurt– like the Star Trek Next Gen episode where Data’s head was found amongst some 19th Century Earth artifacts… tell me your brain doesn’t start to hurt as you try and figure out how Data is both alive and dead in the albeit fictive present, but lived in the past? was killed in the 1800s? so how can he exist n the present, or is it the future? see what I mean….
Maybe Greg wasn’t suggesting I write something like “Time’s Arrow” but there was a part of my brain that was screaming NOOOOOOOOO it can’t come first because it didn’t happen first. This kind of modular design doesn’t bother me in other people’s work, so I’m not sure why I resist, but I do. I’m trying really hard to get over it….
Greg also suggested that rather than tweak what I have that I re-type the whole thing. Start with a blank document. No cutting and pasting.
This suggestion not only made my brain hurt, but made me want to hyperventilate as well.
Do you know how intimidating a blank page is to a writer?? It was like he was suggesting that I toss what I’ve done. The 200 plus pages. And a part of my brain (the same part that keeps all those unfinished projects in my closet) was screaming NOOOOOOO I can’t get rid of anything!
But I’m doing what he suggested. I mean you do know the definition of crazy, don’t you:
doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
I started re-typing the beginning, with the new vision of starting with the end.
In the process of re-typing, I’ve already added three new pages.
And maybe some of the prose won’t even make it into the new document.
And maybe that’s a good thing.
And maybe, just maybe I’ll find an end….