May 20, 2011

Memoir Teaser

It’s been a while old friend. Friends? It has been a while since I have spilled some beans here at Intrepid Flame, but please do not judge too hastily; I have been writing quite a bit and fluidly may I add. Cranking out anywhere from 500-1000 words a night. It has felt great. These bizarre scenes continue to ooze out of me onto the blank pages. I have begun digging into old journals to help remind me of the past. When I find a terrible poem or profound idea that I scribbled across pages of the past, I stretch them out and develop scenes to add to my book.

But now, I need your help. I am not sure if the direction I have chosen for this memoir is the best one. I have been writing in a bizarre frantic blindness since January and now I need to take some kind of inventory and decide which direction to head next.

Basically, I have been picking various episodes from my life from the time I was three till the present and writing a series of first person present tense vignettes. Some are a page, others much longer. Thematically they are bound by this idea of the quiet shy boy who goes through various traumas and abuse, which affect him both positively and negatively. This broken boy uses a variety of defenses from drugs and alcohol, to an uncontrollable rage to find himself and become a man. We peak in on his life always in the present tense about love, loneliness, joy, affirmation, despair etc…Some vignettes are all descpritve, some scenes with dialouge, some  with elements of plot, some nothing more than an extended poem.

How much first person present tense narrative vignettes can the reader take? Do I need to insert a sense of plot or progression? How do I do this in a memoir? I was hoping not to have them lined up chronologically. Is this a good idea? Do I need a third person, past tense narrative to tie these episodes together? A voice dictating the lessons learned?

I have also chosen one voice for all of the vignettes no matter the age of the boy/man. So the sixteen year old me sounds like the eight year old and thirty six year old me. My friend Ari says this is not the best idea. Do you agree?

That is it for now. I would love some comments, ideas or suggestions. If anything this has been an amazingly cathartic and therapeutic experience for me. I have really enjoyed revisiting these moments in my life. I just hope others find value in the lessons I hope I am sharing. A final question- why should people care about my life? Can I rely on the universality of suffering and salvation?

In closing, I haven’t shared much of what I have been writing, but here is something I wrote the other night to give you a taste. Please take a look, think about the questions above and help me out.

Stockholm is city built on several small islands. Fourteen to be exact. It is located on Sweden's south-central east coast, where Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea.  These islands are continuous with the Stockholm archipelago. The geographical city centre is situated on the water, in the bay Riddarfjärden. But right now I do not know any of this. I am oblivious to this knowledge. All morning I have been traversing the various bridges and waterways mapless and rudderless. The air is steel blue crisp and invigorating. Head strapped with ear goggles, the walkman filled with tiny doses of melancholy, but I am alive and my cherry red runny nose and frozen fingers prove it.
I find myself in Gamla Stan, the city's oldest section which is located on the original small islands of the city's earliest settlements and still features the medieval alleyways, cobbled streets, and archaic architecture. It dates back to the 13th century, and consists of tourist shops, bohemian cafes and a vegan diner with enticing pumpkin soup aromas wafting out the door.

Inside, we, the assorted patrons are huddle into various corners of this tiny hovel. The windows let spill thin piercing blades of light, which miraculously fill the room with heat. I am crouched over a bowl of steaming vegan soup, a hunk of bread in hand for dipping, and a green vegetable juice that makes me feel avant guard and cosmopolitan. I am a twenty-five year old college graduate, who majored in creative writing, I’m scribbling musings into a journal with sheets made form brown paper bags. I will head back to New York city soon to end a stint in the Big Apple before heading off to Africa. No one in here knows my story. I think myself wise and profound. I am at the end tail end of my current trajectory. How can I know of a future? How will I understand these passing minutes, this present time as a past? How will I look back on experiences not yet lived. We are constantly pushing the limits of our perpetual apex. The  living of life is standing on the edge of a creeping present tense. And I am here. Swimming in it.  On this cold Tuesday afternoon in a boho den in Gamla Stan, Stockholm. 

Two hours later. Another island. A bar. A Guinness. A Johnny Walker Black on the rocks, sure make it a double. Three cigarettes. A need. Misplaced. Mislaid. Lost. I’ve come off the streets to kill some time, regroup, get drunk. Live the poem. I spent the last hour rifling through trinkets at a junk shop near the water and am now armed with a vintage typewriter, which most likely holds more promise than anything palpable. It is a sturdy machine from a by gone era. I finger each key, a romantic door into our collective never-ending story, as I watch the ice cubes shift places in the tumbler behind a rising wall of smoke. I am wake enough to realize I’ve been placed inside this dream. The same one I have always had. 
Thanks in advance for your help!

No comments:

Post a Comment