Which I find odd, since, well you know? I am a writer/editor.
But the backstory stuff, the part of the memoir that’s the lead-up to where it starts, all the junk: neglect, abuse, hormone insanity as a teenager, yada yada I have struggled with for a decade trying to write for someone who doesn’t know me.
It’s better, but it’s still bad.
I know this. Maybe my particular ring of hell (or that for writers?) is being the only person who can tell a story and knowing that you can’t tell it well enough.
I had a friend suggest putting it in 3rd person. Well, actually that solved a problem or two with the first chunk. But overall? It made it worse. When I switched it back to first person, it is better. But I can’t keep writing and rewriting the same chapters from 3rd to 1st person, and who knows if doing that again would be helpful?
This is the stuff I’d struggle to write and quit when the tears wouldn’t stop. It’s inconvenient to say the least that the thing that traumatized me started so young. It makes telling my story really hard without explaining it, because the memoir is about dealing with it as an adult. I was 19 where I start the piece. I sure am not Mozart or Beethoven to have accomplished lots of things by that age. What I had done was try to cope with chronic pain, and badly, so that I’d tried to commit suicide twice before I was 20.
Then I turned my life around, and that’s the story.
Maybe I should just rip the thing in 1/2. Instead of telling 40 years , with some (hopefully) funny stories between in 60 pages, I should just do the whole thing in bullet points. I could probably fit 40 years (without the funny stories) in about 2 pages, oh let’s be generous — 4.
I’d give up, but.
But? Two or three things. I don’t give up easily. I’ve got 10 years into this I started writing it in posts. We’ve invested in getting it edited (helpful and not) and 3 sessions at the writing workshop.
I love the new structure, my age at the time being talked about is in parenthesis.
(19) (backstory 1)
(19-20) (backstory 2)
(20+) (backstory 3)
(23+) Twenty three is when the whole thing shifts, again. I met the fellow I’m married to.
I had a huge problem with what to do after 25,when we got married. I’m in the same relationship. We’ve lived in the same place for some time. I had the same business for 10+ years, etc. Things got STABLE, mostly.
Stable is also boring btw? Nobody wants to read the story of what you had for breakfast, unless you’re important somehow. I’m not.
I had someone say they thought they knew what I wanted in my class. I expected this would be WAY off. But it wasn’t. What they said was, “You want vindication.” It was very unsettling to have someone I’d basically just met nail me so well, but they’re right.
I want people to see/understand how HARD it was to beat PTSD as much as I have, without consistent support from family, community, drugs, religion or the mental health field.
I want the people who really have PTSD to know that someone else understands how hard it is and maybe with the drugs and help and understanding now, their journey doesn’t need to be as hard as mine was.
I want the people who get in a fender bender and say, “I had PTSD for 3 days!” to understand that they probably never had it at all, and be glad!
I want the people who told me I was crazy or who backed away from me or who dismissed what I was going through to understand a little.
I want the people who think I’m unstable because I talk about this stuff to understand why I think, no I know, I’m more stable than they are!
And yes, I’d like all those folks who over the years have told me to “Give it to God,” or “Grow up!” or “Just get over it,” to understand that when you have PTSD it isn’t a choice.