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Writing about yourself

Schreibtischtäter > Literary writing > Spoke desgin

Writing a memoir engages both memory and memory’s natural selectiveness. As I said in Chapter Tow, new writers are often told to write what they know, but the problem is we do not usually, know enough about what we `know`, because we do not know ourselves clearly enough. Many students appear to be finding it harder to connect themselves personally with what they know. Writing of this type helps to reconnect them to both self-knowledge and knowledge.

The face of life

One of the reasons for finding difficulty at first in writing what we know seems to be we now gain so much knowledge in al relatively frictionless manner, such as the Internet and television. Children and teenagers living in affluent countries, for example, may not experience much not much in the way of physical work, such as agricultural or industrial labour, and the knowledge this brings. Therefore, although new writers might posses a range of information that would seen incredible to their forebears, it is sometimes uncoupled from physical reality, and does not carry distinct details mined form the face of life, from weathers unmonitored by any thermostat.

You are a story

I said at the beginning of this chapter that time makes stories of us all. But we also make stories of ourselves. We are our own fictions even if most of the time we do not to understand ourselves in this way. Nevertheless, we allow ourselves to be read in this way, and wie guide our `readers` - whether they be our friends, employers or lovers – with no small amount of care, even when we are `telling the truth`, possibly even more so. Aspects of our lives are stories waiting to be told, and we already have some idea of how to tell them. Margaret we often admit to ourselves and they are certainly much more edited by us. I the way the mind organize the information you take in. Memory is dynamic and selective; it can delete whole days, or magnify everyday happenings so that they become mythic. Toby Litt say, `We shape our memories in the same we embellishing whenever the occasion calls for it. `There shaping processes should suit creative nonfiction, since stories and memoirs are themselves processes should suit creative nonfiction, since stories and memoirs are themselves daynamic and selective. As the epigraph to this chapter by Nabokov reminds us, `the selective apparatus pertains to art; but the part selected belong to unadulterated life. `

Memoir and memory

So: felicity to reality can make for good art but only because, to some extent, our reality it partly an art. When Nabokov was writing the first version of his autobiography Speak, Memory, he claims he was `handicapped by an almost complete lack of data in regard to family history, and, consequently, by the impossibility of checking my memory when I felt it might be at fault` (2000:9).
You need to collect the date of your own life before you begin playing with it, or subverting it, artistically. However, the truth is always stranger than fiction. For many readers who do not care overmuch about art, the truth is always stronger than any fiction, too – dangerous, even.

Pulling back

You may sometimes have experienced the dislocating sensation that you are starring in a film by of your life. Begin to practice the whitely trick of freeze framing moments of your life as they are experienced, fixing them sharply in your memory, and ceasing to be merely a passenger in your journey through time. However, do not practice this self-consciously to the degree that begins to change the way you live or behave.
It all too easy to become snared in nets of self-awareness by asking too many questions, such as how well many of us know ourselves, and how well any of us know how others perceive us, or think of us. Be serious; you are not going to know the answered to all these questions and, if you did, it would not help you or your writing. Mirrors and photographs offer you an external take, skewed by light levels. When a camera `sees` us, we cannot help but perform a little. Your voice, when recorded, distorts the burr or drawl you hear through the bones of you own head and body. It is the same with writing: it conducts, reflects and transforms. That does not mean that it lies. Indeed, it often clarifies.

Knowledge is self-knowledge

The way you chance to tell your story will carry precise but subtle massages about your philosophy and experience, about the essential truths of your character – and its falsenesses. Write with emotional candour, even though candour might feel slight unnatural or showy. Do not be in a hurry to disguise your own flaws in your own story. They add depth – even truth. As Jean Cocteau urged, `Cultivate your flaws. They are the truest thing about you.` In Tearapheutic Dimensions of Autobiography in Creative Writing (2000), Celia Hunt presents research showing that writing fictional autobiography as part of an artistic apprenticeship not only helps to extend literary skill and the finding of voice, but also benefits the writer therapeutically. Rember again that that many readers read out more about you, but what many of them are doing is trying to discover more about themselves and their own flaws and life-lessons.

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