Funny how things happen, no? No sooner had I posted the introduction to my desire for a new version of part of the past, than the present and future caught up to me.
That is to say, the very next day two new projects appeared in my inbox that I can’t really turn down and, as these matters go, they require me to be responsible for my time to others. Then, too, I found myself avoiding the unpleasant (if I call myself a writer) evidence that I don’t really know how to tell the story I want to tell—an absence of technique, an inability to control tone, something.
Most problematic has been the problem of memoir’s effect on those involved in it. The issue is that although my wife told the story as she experienced it eight years ago in print, the idea of me writing about those days too painful for her even now. I’m not sure what I think about this kind of problem. I can understand an argument that holds that her writing was cathartic for her in difficult times (obviously true) but my writing is simply a reminder of those painful times. Her telling of the story her way serves to, if not erase, then mitigate the consequences of decisions I made, while my writing about those same decisions do not mitigate their consequences at all but are experienced as actions, as if saying what I did, and why, is the same as doing it all again.
Some of you have written to encourage me to keep going with my attempt; some of you praised my candor. I really appreciate those notes and so let me try to live up to their point: I am glad I don’t have to write this. Living it was hard and painful for many people I loved; for others, and for me, it was that but it was also liberating. Writers are supposed to know how to live with pain, to own it, as I have written before in this space, but I am not sure that the pain we cause others can or should be embraced or celebrated, even in pursuit of our own growth. Oh, in the abstract, as a matter of principle that we can sometimes pass off as necessity, yes; but not really in the lives of people we know and love.
Well, that’s it. I won’t write it. A friend of both of ours (maybe more a friend of mine, though she is very fond of Nan) has written saying she wants to write it. Maybe she will. I have no idea what she understands. If she does write the story, I’ll be interested to see what she thinks happened. Meanwhile, you can all go to Nan’s book for the most current version.
So, thank you and I hope I can keep up with this space while I get these other projects underway. If I skip a week, I know many if not most of you won’t really miss it, but if you do, just check back in from time to time. I’ll catch up.