Writing about the one character you know best

Flannery O’ Connor said that anyone who has survived childhood has enough material to write for the rest of his or her life.

We all have a memoir dwelling deep inside us.

And alongside the memoir there rests a basic fear.

Would anybody read it?

Would anybody care?

Why would anyone want to hear my story?

Who am I?

I looked in the mirror this morning.

I’m not even sure who I am.

None of us are alone.

Others have written successful memoirs.

These are thoughts about the task as written within the memoirs themselves.

“Each of us is a book waiting to be written, and that book, if written, results in a person explained.”
― Thomas M. CirignanoThe Constant Outsider

 

Remember that you own what happened to you. If your childhood was less than ideal, you may have been raised thinking that if you told the truth about what really went on in your family, a long bony white finger would emerge from a cloud and point to you, while a chilling voice thundered, “We *told* you not to tell.” But that was then. Just put down on paper everything you can remember now about your parents and siblings and relatives and neighbors, and we will deal with libel later on.”
― Anne LamottBird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

 

“I start to see that I surround myself with broken people; more broken than me. Ah, yes, let me count your cracks. Let’s see, one hundred, two… yes, you’ll do nicely. A cracked companion makes me look more whole, gives me something outside myself to care for. When I’m with whole, healed people I feel my own cracks, the shatters, the insanities of dislocation in myself.”
― Julie GregorySickened: The Memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood

 

“I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures. …We tell the story to get them back, to capture the traces of footfalls through the snow.”
― Gail CaldwellLet’s Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship

 

“It has always been on the written page that the world has come into focus for me. If I can piece all these bits of memory together with the diaries and letters and the scribbled thoughts that clutter my mind and bookshelves, then maybe I can explain what happened. Maybe the worlds I have inhabited for the past seven years will assume order and logic and wholeness on paper. Maybe I can tell my story in a way that is useful to someone else.”
― Nancy HoranLoving Frank

 

“’I don’t know where to start,’ one [writing student] will wail.
“Start with your childhood,” I tell them. “Plug your nose and jump in, and write down all your memories as truthfully as you can. Flannery O’ Connor said that anyone who has survived childhood has enough material to write for the rest of his or her life. Maybe your childhood was grim and horrible, but grim and horrible is Okay if it is well done. Don’t worry about doing it well yet, though. Just get it down.”
― Anne LamottBird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

 

“Write about small, self-contained incidents that are still vivid in your memory. If you remember them, it’s because they contain a larger truth that your readers will recognize in their own lives. Think small and you’ll wind up finding the big themes in your family saga. ”
― William Zinsser

 

“The morning opens, a mist of innocence appears across the countryside that tells each one of us the day is new. That feeling of hope, love and the humble awareness of our duty becomes clear if even for a moment. It is that experience of inspiration that follows us into a small town woken by a cool frost on this Sunday morning and the laughter of children playing.”
― Kris CourtneyNorma Jean’s Sun

 

“Stories nurture our connection to place and to each other. They show us where we have been and where we can go. They remind us of how to be human, how to live alongside the other lives that animate this planet. … When we lose stories, our understanding of the world is less rich, less true.”
― Susan J. TweitWalking Nature Home: A Life’s Journey

 

“Those who live in memories are never really dead.”
― Kate MortonThe House at Riverton

 

“Memoir is not an act of history but an act of memory, which is innately corrupt.”
― Mary Karr

 

So what happened?

I wrote a Memoir or sorts.

I know why.

There’s no doubt about it.

I want to make sure that my stories are told exactly the way I want them told even when I am no longer around to tell them myself.

Please click HERE to find The Man Who talks to Strangers on Amazon.

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  • When I write, I am the character whose pov I’m writing from. I can’t do it any other way. I have to become that character again when I change pov from one scene to another. A character is 4D (3D + time), but I can only put a bit of that on the page – and the part I put is always where the character’s Venn diagram of thoughts and feelings overlaps with mine.

    I thought everyone did that.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Alicia: I’m sure every writer has a different way of approaching a story. My character’s POV is never my POV. I try to crawl into his head and, like an actor, become the character. What he thinks, what he says, what he belives, and what he does is nothing I personally would ever do. I’m too much of a coward.

  • Sally Berneathy

    This may be my favorite of all your books, Caleb. Maybe that’s why…because it’s about you.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      You’re kind, Sally. We all collect something. I just collect people, especially those who deal in chocolate, which is my addiction of choice. When is your next book coming out?

      • Sally Berneathy

        LOL! I’m not kind! I just got taken to task by someone in our local group for being too harsh in my critiques! If I praise your work, you know it’s really good! My next book is coming along slowly. It should already be finished. I fear I spent way too much time this past summer having fun and eating chocolate.

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