Good memoir is personal, that’s obvious.
A good memoir tells a personal story that echoes a generalized widespread anxiety, encapsulating it into a single example of Life as we fear it.
That’s my opinion on good memoir.
Exceptional memoir is different.
Exceptional memoir is beyond personal.
Exceptional memoir is so authentic to the writer it’s so personal, it might not even be entirely true.
Anxiety distorts reality.
Any memory we have anxiety or pain is distorted and, when we tell the story of our anxiety or our pain, we often detail fact with distortion but, in doing so, we give the audience an opportunity to witness our fear.
In our fear, they’ll see their own fear.
And from there, we all transcend.
The hardest part of writing memoir isn’t the writing. The hardest part is re-facing the anxiety of my past.
Editing my life together, I re-live the worry that I am not good enough. I re-live it from age 8, 11, 16, 17.
I’m not embarrassed about the crap other people have put me through and it doesn’t make me feel ashamed to write in a way that holds those people accountable for their thoughtlessness and cruelty.
I am embarassed, sometimes, that my story is so typical.
But then, to be exceptional in memoir sometimes means telling a typical story.
Reading my memoir, the things that stand out have nothing to do with the political climate of my childhood or the economic or physical struggles of my family, or whatever else it is that makes Struggle so obviously notable in the narratives of other memoirs.
Those memoirs are important, and good, and on my book shelf and I wish I could write one but I have to work around the fact that I can’t. I can’t write a good memoir.
Eddie is not an exceptional topic. He is not an exotic problem that few people face.
He’s The problem.
He’s Your problem.
Or maybe, he’s You.
We rarely write about our nightmares in a way that honours how alive they happen to be.
All I want to do with my writing is honour the reality of your anxieties, give them a name, and tell that name that I hate him, I don’t need him, I’m moving on now, thanks.
I wish I had this book at age 8, 11, 16, 17, 18……every single age I write about in here, each age of me deserved this book. As do the ages of women I hope receive it, the ages of men, people, whoever you are.
If you don’t have time to read or you hate reading, ok. I still hope you have something to help you believe in your bravery. Maybe you can write yourself something that you need to hear or that you needed to hear at age 8, 11, 16….you get it.
I want to write letters to every age I used to be.
I want my young self to know that it is ok to take your time.
Dear Rachel, hi. How’s school? I know you hate it. Mom took you to the doctor because you don’t want to leave your house, or is it your bed? It depends on the day. That’s ok. People are scary. It’s true. People will always be scary. It’s ok to be alone, right? No one will tell you that, ever, but now that I’m older I think it’s important for you to know that being on your own is a gift. If it feels good to be alone, you are gifted. Eventually, you’ll learn from others that solitude is a weird freaky thing and alone time will become this weird few hours of every afternoon where you lock yourself away and try to mutilate your skin, I know that sounds weird and scripted and stupid and why would you do that, but it’s going to enter your mind some day and stay there: You will wan hurt yourself, urgently, and it will feel so overwhelming, confusing, hopeless, you’ll cry harder than you cry every night right now, you’ll cry so hard you’ll wonder if you’re going to pop a red vein in your nostril like mom, remember she told us that’s why she has a popped red vein in her nostril, from crying. So, I learned something recently. I’m 32. You’re 8. We’re bad at math so, who knows how many years it will be until you really understand this but: You can just change your mind. Bad thoughts? Once you really understand what it is that you’re afraid of, that you’re avoiding. Once you really understand what you think and even, if you have time for this, understand Why you think those thing, you can isolate the thought and re-write it. Why would you ever want to hurt yourself? Because you don’t want to deal with facing people ever again. Because you’re afraid of their judgement. But what if, while you’re hiding in the bathroom, curled up on the floor, you stopped and thought, “I am excited for people to see me. ” What if you just loved your weird self and decided to be excited about who you are? That’s a lot to ask of you right now but, keep this letter in your pocket and one day it will make sense and if you learn nothing else from this little bit of writing please remember, I love you, I love you, I love you. Be good. -R
Eddie, I Hate You. A Memoir by Rachel Ganz is available….soon. Follow this blog or follow my Facebook page for updates on when and where you can purchase your copy.
I am so excited. Let me know how excited you are 🙂 or send me any question you please.