It’s amazing to me that anyone with a difficult past completes a memoir. The process redefines difficult. When Rob Roberge was asked about Liar at a reading in San Francisco, he said it was not fun to write and it wasn’t fun reliving it on the book tour.
The first vomit draft of my memoir was like ripping strips of my own skin off with a rusty razor, having it all restored at night, and doing it again the next day. Once that big-ugly-everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink-draft was done, it took work to separate myself from the person on the page. That separation is necessary to go on to more drafts and to start to build a structure. It’s been about as much as I can handle and so this blog has languished again. Sorry. I think I’m back to weekly blogging now, but we’ll see. If nothing else, memoir writing is unpredictable, full of emotional triggers and black holes. With my editor’s help, I made the turn to approach it more like writing a novel and it became somewhat less harrowing.
Resilience is the capacity to bounce back from those triggers and low points, from rejection and the lows of the process. Why do some people become overwhelmed while others develop resilience? I don’t know. We saw it after the 1994 Northridge earthquake here in Los Angeles. Some people broke down unable to function and some of us started picking up the pieces after the sun rose. Perhaps that’s the gift (and I hesitate to call it that) inside trauma — nothing seems as bad by comparison.