Years ago I had an idea for a book to write. In college when I decided to change my major to creative writing all I could dream about was someday writing my own book. I didn't know what exactly I would write about because I had a love for all different types of books, both fiction and non-fiction. At one point I even dreamed about writing a book on relationships because I wanted to give my "expertise" on the subject that my friends have found me to be so helpful with over the years. A few years after changing my major there I was, finally with an idea to work with.
A few months ago I found new inspiration to pick up where I left off after a few years of false starts that gave my book idea shape but brought it nowhere near completion. I wrote notes, outlines, and text that was to become a book but didn't feel that I had the right life experiences to complete it from an honest and enlightened perspective. After looking back over my past writings I had a revelation on how to move forward earlier this year. The subject that I started off with was far too broad to tackle. However, after putting it aside and allowing my life to develop a little more I found a specific idea within the broad subject that truly spoke to what I was feeling. I found my subject.
In addition to finding a specific focus I also had to find the appropriate format through which I could convey my idea. I've known all along that it was going to be non-fiction despite the appeal of fiction. Within the world of non-fiction books there are still many format options. My choice was narrowed slightly but there was still a lot to choose from. After careful research I opted for the memoir format. I chose the memoir because this genre is specifically for writing on a specific life experience, which is where I want to go.
For about a week I debated writing this blog post because I knew if I published it then I would become accountable for having to actually produce a book. It’s also not common practice for for me to reveal projects that I’m working on in their early stages. The compromise I decided to make with myself was to go ahead and make the post because I feel it's an honest representation of what artists experience in the early stages of the creative process. In exchange, I won't say what it's about so I can maintain some degree of creative cover. I will only say that it's a memoir about a life experience that I’m constantly gaining new perspectives on. I also realize that the risk of speaking about a book before it's actually book, there's a chance that I won't finish it or that it could take years. I'm okay with that because it's honestly in what projects go through when we first dream them up, some live and some die. Hopefully, this one will live on to inspire others.
What I really want to focus on is the experience of writing a memoir more than the memoir itself because the experience of working on something can be more valuable than reaching the finish line. The first thing I've learned is that writing about a life experience takes a lot of courage. The process of digging up memories, both pleasant and painful, is extremely unnerving at times. This reminds me of the quote, "anything worth having won't come easy." Anyone can write the chosen highlights of their life from a place of comfort but a good memoir requires you to be truthful about everything, both good and bad. You have to be brave enough to relive the thoughts that you had and carry them with you once again throughout the writing process. A positive outcome is that revisiting difficult times can grant you a new perspective or even the closure that you've been seeking.
As much as it can hurt to be honest about the not so perfect things we've done I believe it's necessary both for us to fully realize the growth that we've experienced and to show others that they're not alone in what they're going through, if we choose to share those things. In my personal experience, I've learned way more life lessons from reading memoirs than reading any type of self-help tips. Telling an experience through story is a lot more motivating than just giving bullet points. When we can feel struggle, especially struggle we can relate to, we can also feel optimism that that struggle has an end and will lead us somewhere wonderful.
A lesson that I learned while volunteering with a local mentoring program, The Village, over the summer is that there are people that don’t know things that our society considers basic knowledge. Some may not know at what age to potty-train children or how to establish credit. You cannot learn these things if you’re never exposed to them by someone who does know them. This lesson served as further inspiration for me to share my experience because there’s a great chance that someone may be able to learn from what I’ve learned and I feel that it’s my moral obligation to share. Accomplishing your dream is great but if you can help others in the process, that’s even greater.
I think one of the most important lessons for me in undertaking this project is that our dreams always start with us. For me this means my dreams of writing books starts with writing about myself. I could have easily opted to be a ghostwriter of someone else's story but I would have been writing their story of growth before I'd written my own and in the process missed all of the lessons I'm destined to receive.
In conclusion, I invite you along on the process of continuous learning and exploration. Whether or not we reach the end and see a beautiful glossy cover with my name on it we can all at least say we've share this experience together and hopefully learned from it.