Sunday, December 27, 2009

Finding my way back -

Ever since NaNoWriMo ended, I've struggled to write. I think I've been suffering from a tiny burnout - a fizzle, maybe. Did I mention that I've considered revisiting the memoir I started and abandoned a couple of years ago, as a springboard back into writing? Well, I have - and today I opened it up to have a look. It looks a little too much like "What I did on my Summer Vacation" for my taste, so I decided to (no, not delete it) go back to the beginning and start again, thinking not so much about History as about memories. I'm going to follow Natalie Goldberg's advice and back into the memoir, instead of facing it head-on. I'll still use all those facts I've been piling up, but I think I could make the memoir a lot more interesting than it is at the moment.

Somehow, the idea of memories led me to think of memes. You know those memes we play with here on the interwebs? I used the "ten random facts" meme to jog my memory. This is what came to mind:

Dear Children -

Right up front - ten random facts about your grandmother:

1. She loved liver and onions. She served liver and onions for dinner once a week. Oh, I almost forgot - she liked the liver rare - but then, she liked everything rare.

2. She didn't drink, but she claimed to have just as much fun as the  drinkers at any party, and I don't doubt it.

3. I remember scooting around the perimeter of the living room, trying to get from point A to point B without coming within range of the pancake turner, which your grandmother wielded with deadly accuracy. If you take your own pancake turner and slap the couch with it, you'll note that it sort of twangs. It does that when it connects with your bum, too.

4. She loved to read, especially over breakfast - or when she was ready to sleep. She was forever falling asleep with a book in her hand and her glasses still on. I inherited that habit - I think we all did.

5. She claimed to be a baritone. I think she was really a contralto, but even that was surprising, considering how small she was - five feet, one and a half inches tall.

6. She always wore pajamas. No nightgowns for her, thank you. She probably thought only floozies wore nightgowns. That would have been in character.

7. She beat the boys at track when she was in high school. That's her story, and I'm sticking to it.

8. Her breasts were flat. She said they had collapsed when she underwent her Caesarean section. I think it bothered her, but we never really discussed it.

9. She loved to watch game shows - I think "Truth or Consequences" was her favourite. We went to see it one time, in Burbank.

10. She never used soap on her face. She spoke as if it were a matter of principle (that way lie wrinkles, etc.) but I suspect she developed the habit because she was allergic to several soaps. She used to mock the Ivory ads by yelling "99 and 44/100% pure LYE!" - and Palmolive took her skin right off.


You know, I think I may have stumbled on a useful tool. I've been working so hard on chronology, and on getting my facts straight, I think I've been forgetting what it's all about - making the memory of my mother real to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who never got a chance to meet her. Maybe I should browse the meme bank and see what else I can find. Meanwhile, I'm going to try to figure out why the first thing I came up with was liver and onions.


Karen said...

Not having seen your first draft memoir, I can't compare, but these meme facts make your mother come to life! I think you may have hit upon something. (The poet in me wonders if this wouldn't be a good way to create a person in poetry. I may give that a try.)

John Hayes said...

Interesting facts about your mother. It's not surprising that you'd be a bit frazzled writing-wise after the NaNoWriMo exercise, but I think looking back at other writing is often a way of spurring creativity. Good luck!

AngelMay said...

I know why you came up with liver and onions first. It's because when something as horrible as that is placed in front of you, you NEVER forget it. ;o)

Anonymous said...

Ah, I love liver and onions! And, I too have never used 'soap' on my face. Backing into, sounds like a great plan and love your Dear Children meme.

Beth P. said...

Love these 'facts'!
I've been doing a '10 things I learned this week' post each week on my blog after going to a workshop with Kim Stafford who said that if we do this type of discipline, then the ideas that come from it can be the bones for larger works. I'm loving the practice so far.

Thanks for this lovely post--I feel that while I don't know your mother, I want to!

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