So I’m writing a memoir about asexuality, and I’ve spent a lot of time revisiting years that I’ve repressed very well – too well, it turns out. A lot of my high school years are gone. Just gone, which, as a writer of creative non-fiction, is really frustrating.
What’s more frustrating is that the stuff that’s left is tainted with bitterness. A lot of our memories are tied to strong emotions like embarrassment or anger, and mine are no exception. So how to make those remembrances, which are soaked in teenage self-pity, and turn them into something someone might want to read? My refuge is humor. I haven’t experienced anything in my life so horrible that it can’t be laughed at. The trick is to pull myself out of the foxhole that is my resentment, and take a few shots at myself before turning that gun on anyone else.
It’s easier with fiction. No one else’s feelings are at stake, whereas the stuff I’m writing about involved other people, people who – thanks to Facebook – might find out about this book and read it one day, then serve me with a lawsuit for defamation of character. (Don’t worry, folks, names will be changed to protect the bitchy.) But I don’t know that I’m really worried about what others will think – I mostly got that out of my system by my third year of college. I guess the real fear now is that I’ll put my past on the page, and someone will tell me it wasn’t worth committing to paper.
I’ve spent a couple weeks now trying to get this one part of my story down, and just keep smashing my head into my desk. There are details that I keep trying to sandwich in to suit my ego, as if these words are my chance for – there’s no better way to say it – revenge. But it’s not even good revenge, like some juicy tell-all biography on a dead celebrity. No one’s going to care. So I have to put those vengeful feelings aside, because they don’t make for a good story. I have to write this book in a way that matters, or it really won’t matter at all.
These are the kinds of writing lessons no one can really teach you, but hopefully, with enough time and practice, you can learn anyway.