A memoir teaches you to write it.
Then I made a collage of poetry, vignettes, short stories....it was....almost...working...I could have slid it through in that manner. But it wasn't right. Not yet.
So I started over. I let the story start where it wanted and go where it wanted. I had wanted to corral it in safe places. It wanted to explore all that had silenced me. I gave in to the story. And then I rewrote, revised, many, many times. The last revision was in my mother's sewing room in Oklahoma, where I was living as she was dying last summer. I returned to help her.
At night I would revise. I cut a hundred pages to make it tight. I read the next to the last revision to my friend Pam Kingsbury who lives in the northwest corner of Alabama, near Muscle Shoals, for three nights in a row, around ten o'clock at night. I have to hear it read aloud, to feel the spirit of it, how it wants to go...
And now it's almost here.
I give thanks to the spirit of the story. I never know where it will lead me.
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I was nervous about my family reading CRAZY BRAVE. Yesterday, my stepsister, who was the daughter of the stepfather in the memoir told me that she noticed I had been very careful, that I had held back. The stories about her father and what happened to all of us were much worse.
I still haven't heard from other family members. My sister Margaret gave it her approval.
A sister-in-law was concerned for me. She thinks people will think I made it all up. But I have witnesses, I said. She's still concerned. No one ever believed her. She told me other stories I hadn't heard, as did a sister-in-law who was a close confidant of my mother, her mother-in-law.
CRAZY BRAVE keeps attracting more stories. I want it to inspire others to claim their story, no matter the path of it, no matter the failures and successes.
This isn't just my story but it echoes the story of many others in the world.