I’m thinking about voice these days. I’m always drawn to the ineffable, that which defies description. And writing a book with the subtitle “A Field Guide for Finding Your Own Voice” is my latest foray into the ineffable. Voice is like love—very tricky to describe but undeniable when it is present. So for the next several months I will be writing about the indescribable. Yay for the hard jobs!
But the best way to bring the ineffable to life is not to describe it, but to point it out in the field. And like I said: when voice is there, it’s there. And, when I first read Meadow Braun’s blog White Girl in Black Face for the first time, I was struck by her voice. It’s right there on the surface, as undeniable as rain. And one of the things I plan to do here on Writing Is My Drink over the next year is introduce you to some voices that speak to me, Meadow’s being one of them. Meadow generously agreed to let me repost “For Writers Who Have Considered Memoir When The Story Is Enuf” today, and after you read it, you might want to go over to her blog and read more. If you do, I hope you’ll read the post, “In Solidarity with Barack Obama, My President, her searing response to the Barack Birth Certificate Silliness.
Here’s how Meadow describes her work: “White Girl in Black Face (WGiBF) is the blog of Meadow Braun, a typical black, Puerto Rican, Jamaican, Russian Jew from upstate New York. Through personal stories, images and humor, Meadow explores the complexities that make up her mixed race experience, encouraging readers to grapple with the complexities in their own lives. Her goal is simple: to write (and laugh) her way toward love, empowerment and wholeness. She invites you along on the journey. Meadow is also working on a memoir of the same title.”
And here’s the guest post:
For Writers Who Have Considered Memoir When the Story is Enuf
I am writing my memoir instead of giving up. Instead of making nice. Instead of losing it. Instead of screaming. Instead of gaining weight. Instead of going postal. Instead of dying.
I am writing my memoir despite the fact that many days I can’t write. Despite the fact that, in all actuality, I spend most of my time doing everything but writing.
I am writing my memoir despite the fact that I have no concrete proof that it needs to be written. Despite the fact that there is no guarantee it will be published. Despite the fact that no one has asked me to write it except my self, and if it is not written, no one will feel its absence but me.
I am writing my memoir despite the fact that sometimes it feels like a merry-go-round of self-absorption. Despite the fact that sometimes it feels self-congratulatory. Embarrassing. Voyeuristic. Exhibitionist. Shameful. Despite the fact that it might be more fun to throw myself into oncoming traffic.
I am writing my memoir because I can’t change the past. But I can make it immortal.
I am writing my memoir because I feel compelled. Because each time I manage to put the words together in just the right way and say precisely how that day went, how that relationship unfolded, how that argument went down, a great calm washes over me. In that moment I feel peace. I feel alive. I feel sure that those words needed to be written. I am in love with those words. In love with the process that created them. In love with even the pain. I feel my feet firmly on the ground and my heart light and open. In that moment I know that I may not have a special degree or certification and I may not have published much. I may not be famous or wealthy or well connected. But I know that if those words came that more words will come and they too will demand to be written. I know that they won’t be satisfied until they are poured freely onto the page and given life. And I know that I will treat them like royal visitors, like drops of rain after a drought, like a loving touch after years of isolation.
I am writing my memoir because there is no good reason why I shouldn’t. Because I’d be cheating myself if I didn’t. Because I have every right. Because no one else can speak for me. Because no one can stop me. Because if I write it I won’t have to regret not writing it. Because writing it might be the answer (or one of them) and if I don’t write it I will never know.
I am writing my memoir because this is it. Because time is running out and I won’t get another chance.
I am writing my memoir in order to expose myself. To defeat fear. To tell my side of the story. To see things as they are. To lay claim. To shift the balance. To fill in the blanks. To make sense of things. To make things right.
I am writing my memoir to say goodbye. To say thank you. To say I’m sorry. To say it wasn’t my fault.
I am writing my memoir to find my place. To find community. To join hands.
I am writing my memoir to say that we are more alike than different. To break down barriers. To give voice to people on the margins, the sidelines, between the lines, and outside the box. To classify the unclassifiable. To define the indefinable. To mix the unmixable. To embrace the ambiguous.
I am writing my memoir to clear the airways. To clear my throat. To explain. To forgive. To heal. To be bigger than myself. To be comforted, validated, and vindicated. To be delivered.
I am writing my memoir to grant permission. To restore meaning. To justify my existence. To test my faith. To celebrate the journey. To find love. To keep living. To save myself.