Perhaps you love to write. Perhaps you dream about writing a memoir. Before you begin, the fear sets in. What will my mother think? Like two writerly super heroes, Anne Lamott and Dorothy Allison swoop in to set you right.
You gather courage, pull up your writing britches and sit at your desk. Memories scroll through your mind like flickering images on a screen. You think, this is ridiculous. Who cares about my story? I am neither famous or mighty. What makes me think my story is worth telling?
In a great cacophony of noise all around you shout Maya Angelou, Annie Dillard, Thomas Cirignano and Saul Bellows.
You can no longer resist. At last you think yes, I will do this. You stare down at the blank page, take a deep breath, wonder where the courage will come from. Here is Stephen King, at your side.
And so you pick up your pen and begin. The gods of writing cheer.
Bestselling memoirist Abigail Carter leads a workshop next month call “Start Writing Your Memoir.” This is your sign.
My plan was simple. I was going to become a photographer for National Geographic, travel the world, have great affairs. Finally, at 40-years-old, I would have a daughter with my most clever lover.
That didn’t happen.
Instead, I married my high school sweetheart and had my daughter when I just 22. We moved back to a suburb outside of Olympia, Washington where I took a job as a secretary and grew increasingly depressed with my unremarkable trajectory with each inch of expanded belly.
Then my daughter was born. Instant alchemy.
Just a single week of holding her in my arms and the understanding that I am the most powerful force in her life sunk into my consciousness. All kinds of glorious revelations flowed forth.
What kind of life do I want for my daughter? I want her to live her dreams, to bravely pursue her passions and interests freely.
If I am the most powerful force in her life, and the best example she has of a life a woman can lead, I must live to my fullest capacity.
I started doing the things that I would want my daughter to do. I admitted my greatest dream. (To, gulp, be a writer!) I re-enrolled in a four-year college and majored in writing, career opportunities be damned. The very month I graduated, I moved my little family overseas to live in Japan. If travel was what I wanted, then no excuse should keep me from packing my bags and boarding the plane.
I don’t expect her to do exactly as I have done. I expect her to do exactly as she wants to do.
When I was pregnant, pitifully employed and ghosting the same strip malls of my youth, despair oozed my from very being. How lucky that her arrival gave my life the driving meaning I required to kick-start my own adventure-filled life.
She’s twelve now, and the most amazing person I’ve ever met. We’re in Mexico where I spend my mornings completing the revisions of my novel, and our afternoons exploring together. When I think back to that simple plan I constructed when I was 16, I laugh. How little it was. How much bigger and better this life has become.