Last year, I took a class in Writing Creative Nonfiction at Ole Miss. One of our first assignments was to write a memoir, one limited in scope, of course, but covering an event of obvious significance in our lives.
When it comes to writing, I'm not usually a procrastinator. Maybe that comes from being a non-traditional undergrad student who was too afraid that if she put off writing a paper until the day before it was due, one or all of her children would wake up with projectile vomiting and uncontrollable diahhrea, or maybe I just realized that my brain works better if I allow myself time to let ideas take root and grow. Either way, I was always the student who started writing the day after the paper was assigned. (You can probably already tell I have control issues.)
I've written many critical analysis papers, even some fiction and poetry. But the thought of putting my life on paper for others to see left me reluctant even to turn on my laptop, much less to begin trying to find words and shape sentences that would lay myself bare to a classroom full of critics and a demanding professor. Then finally, after producing what I thought was a no-holds barred expose', the most often-repeated response to my memoir was, "You left out what we most want to know!"
This is not a new problem for me. I've started multiple diaries and journals only to either abandon them because the introspection required was too painful (you have to be honest with yourself when you are your only audience) or because I was afraid that someone would find my words and actually read them. Yet, all my life the words that others were brave enough to write have given me great joy. I have no illustions that my words here will illuminate anyone's life or bring joy to the multitudes. I simply want to gain the courage to speak, to reveal myself, but I must admit, at first it will probably be only in small glimpses. That's enough for me now.