I have tried fifty times to write my mother’s story. Fifty times I have written three more chapters and fifty times I stopped half-way. I have been unable to write the commercial novel about the World War Two era, when a German refugee living in Palestine married an Australian soldier, moved to Australia and found he was engaged to another woman…… and so the story evolved into “the other woman” at his hospital bed, “the perfume on the couch” “the other woman’s face at the window…”
Hundreds of people have wanted to read this story. Why can’t I write it? I figured it out. I am too close to this story, it is painful to write and it stirs up memories I will need to confront and resolve. I just don’t want to go there.
If you’re having a problem writing a memoir or a story that involves your life, you might not want to go there. This 99 year old soul, this Ma, this old, old woman, needs to write fiction, escape into the outback lands, fly on imaginary birds across dry deserts and into caves to fly with bats. I can visit Australia again via my old “Ma” character. I can’t visit it in reality. Think about it. How close are you to your story? Does it stir up too much emotion when you write about an event in your life or the stories in your life?
Step back. Take that story and incorporate it into fiction, embellish the story, play with it, have fun. I have fun when I’m 99 year old Ma. I don’t want to go “there” but I do as a fictional character. As “Ma”, I can skip over the silver sands of the beaches of Australia, ride the wild waves, fly over the red deserts and dance through white cirrus clouds. I can “go there” as Ma.
Take your painful events and transport them into fiction. It just might work…..