Wednesday, September 24, 2008

If I were the writing kind...

I've long wanted to write a book of some kind. I've never been too good at fiction, although, briefly, I kind of got into short stories while studying creative writing at TCC under Penny Colglazier. I always told her I couldn't write stories, but, somehow, for a semester, she drew it out of me and I came up with some pretty good stuff. Not good enough for a book, though. I'd thought of trying to publish some volume of poetry, but I haven't even been able to write that in a couple of years.

I'd always thought I'd like to do some sort of journalistic non-fiction piece, inspired by a book called Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. She spent a period of her life living in the Bronx, reporting on the drugs, crime, poverty, love and trouble that bound the people living there, both to each other and to their neighborhood. And it all started when, working as a reporter, she was covering the trial of a crime committed there. It's a beautiful book, and, since I read it, I've been waiting for my big break, wanting to write with the depth and insight LeBlanc did.

I'd ruled out writing a memoir long ago. My life isn't that interesting (except for this week). And I know it's not about having exciting or unusual things happen to you, how some of the best stories are the most mundane, that it's all about being able to tell a good story. But it'd be like trying to sell subscriptions to my blog. My friends read it because they're nice and they love me and Isaac, but I doubt anyone else gives a hoot.

The one thing thing I've thought might be worth writing about it my relationship with my maternal grandmother. She died when I was 13, and, growing up, we were very, very close. I spent every Saturday night (and sometimes Friday) at her house, and she took me to church every Sunday. But there are things about her, about the things we did together, that were very strange. I just never realized how strange they were until I looked back on them as an adult. As a young girl, I'd sit down with her at the dining room table, we'd pore through her church hymnal, and she'd select the songs she wanted sung at her funeral. I was young enough to still believe she'd never die (even though she'd bought me a book about death, specifically, the death of a grandparent), but, for some reason, she entrusted me with her funeral plans. She'd also have me scour through her nick knacks and collectibles and mark anything I wanted after she died. I did this at least once a month, and, after a while, my initials were on little white stickers stuck to the bottom of everything on her china shelves.

When my friend Melanie would spend the night, we'd play communion, passing saltine crackers and a big cup of grape juice back and forth, taking nibbles and sips between reading scriptures and praying. I think we thought we were practicing.

I had the idea to compile these anecdotes into some sort of memoir, and I've had fun making notes, remembering these crazy moments. Each memory would lead to another, and I've been trying to get them all down on paper lest I forget again.

I've considered the possibility of helping my mom write her memoir. She's actually got some pretty amazing stories to tell: raising me alone, suffering a stroke induced by an aneurysm, recovering from the stroke when no one believed she would, asking my dad to marry her. She's pretty amazing. She's suffered some debilitating side effects from the stroke, which have prevented her from doing much writing (she used to write all the time), but she talks from time to time about writing her memoir, even if it's just for her kids and grand kids.

And hey, if hers becomes a best seller, maybe I can start commissioning memoirs! Not a bad idea... Got a story to tell?

1 comment:

Shelly Collins said...

You are the writing kind. I know God gives us talents for a reason. :)


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