For everything I write, I consider the veracity of my statements and attributions, the markers of identification around me, the effect my words will have on my dear ones, how what I write fits in the opus of my accomplishments...
Even a simple essay as this blog post needs an integrity of purpose, a consistent point of view, and fit the kind of writing exemplified by the hundreds of entries in this blog, as well as the various circumstances I have shared all along in the last six plus years.
In contrast, when I write about my past, while I'm the only arbiter of both content and point of view, the very act of conjuring up the past helps me make sense of it for my benefit and for nobody else.
When I tell stories about my life, I can choose what to write about, and how much to reveal about myself in the exercise. In a sense. I can take any personality I think I had when I experienced those events. Everything I talk about can be colored anyway I see fit as my childhood, the way I experienced it, cannot be anyone else's. Even people who grew up with me or around me cannot bear witness to how I felt at any given moment.
Does all this mean that the writer can make up his/her story the way a fiction writer chooses his characters and their personalities? Does it happen this way?
I cannot speak for other writers; I can only tell you about myself.
When I write memoir pieces, I embody an emotional self that lived at that time, constricted by the circumstances depicted in those episodes, and it all feels, as I write, as though I'm watching myself in a movie, and the scenes spring up like movie sets, colors and lighting, and dialogue trying to be rooted in that time and space for as long as possible. What happens in those scenes, if any insight surfaces, it is discovered as it is being told, or within the confines of a few scenes. This looking back, revisiting the innocent and blind state we were in at the time of a decision helps us embrace the person we were then, helps us reveal TO OURSELVES the poignant moments in our lives.
I can tell you that I discovered so much about my journey as I wrote about it.
There is no time like retirement to make sense of our lives; to hold it proudly and share the lessons with those we love.