Writing memoir requires lots of rummaging around in the attic of your mind. Digging up old memories can be entertaining as you find the picture of yourself in cat’s eye glasses and teased hair and wonder, “What was I thinking!” It can be painful when you come across reminders of times in your life you would rather forget. It can also be very frustrating when you’re reaching for that pivotal moment you want to include in your narrative, but the memory is so faded and covered with dust that you just can’t quite make out the details.
Even though I write creative non-fiction, I’ve never considered myself to be a very creative person. I usually want a recipe, pattern, or diagram before I begin something new, and although I’ve become much more daring in my later years, I still fear failure and rejection enough to make me cautious. Recently, however, I stepped out of my comfort zone and signed up for a spec fiction short story workshop.
Until now, I never thought I had enough imagination (or courage) to be a fiction writer, especially one who writes about a future time that I can’t research on Google. However, as workshop coaches have moved through the step-by-step process of creating characters, setting, tension, and crisis, I’ve discovered a corner of my mind that has remained mostly unexplored until now, that the section where my imagination lives. So far I’ve made lots of notes and written bits and pieces to complete homework assignments, but if I keep rummaging, maybe I’ll pull something out of myself that I didn’t know existed.