The Persistence of Memory   2 comments

I have been working on a self-assigned project, that of writing an extended memoir addressed to my granddaughter.  She will be 4 in July of 2012, and I sincerely hope she doesn’t come across it until she is at least 18, preferably 20 or 22.

There’s a couple of assumptions I’ve made, the most important being that I will not be around by the time she reaches that age.  I also assume that other family members, should they read what I have written, would NOT want her to understand what happened to me during the span of this story, which concludes the instant I met my wife of 40 years (and counting).

Many of us look back at the sixties with fond nostalgia.  The reality is diffrent.  Even though we had the best rock and roll, much else was a harrowing time of trouble and turmoil, including ‘nasty-bits’ not fit for today’s politically-correct ears.

Accordingly, I plan to leave this work in such a place that I believe she is likely to find it, despite anticipated efforts to suppress it.

My early life was not pretty, but who I am (for better or worse) was formed during that time.  As a child of the sixties, I came of age during an era of free expression, free sex, and free drugs.  All of that is in my memoir, as well as death.

I know my own grandfather lived through some exceedingly challenging times.  The Dust Bowl was only part of it, but he left behind very little that speaks of how that affected him.  He was a talented writer.  His words earned him a good living, but he chose to not write about himself.  Halfway through this project I maybe know why: using oneself as a character is damned tough.

As a writer, I cannot pen these pages without reliving my early days, including the awful ones.  Recalling the events surrounding my relationship with my first lover is painful, to say the least, and trying to be truthful and honest about them, without being gratuitous or salacious, makes it ten times worse.  The truth cannot be allowed to hang in the balance.

Writing about what transpired subsequent to the breakdown of that bond is more fun, but only because I truly don’t like many of the supporting characters.  Telling what happened long ago with someone you don’t really care about is easy; the telling when you have always harbored tender feelings is pretty rugged.

Doing so without denigrating the ongoing relationship that followed is a writer’s nightmare, particularly if it has been a strong and loving one. That aspect may be the most daunting challenge.  I don’t want to hurt my wife of many years; she has equal claim to our sole grandchild.  She knows what I am working on but I have asked her to not read it.  She is aware of all of the larger facts but going through the level of detail needed to bring the story to life would only bring her pain.

Is it possible to write about events four decades ago, without coloring the truth?  Is it maybe just human nature to paint the high points in vivid colors, and to slather a thick coat of primer over the low ones?  I am trying to remain faithful to the story, but to what extent my human frailties may make that impossible remains an open question.  Can one truly relive the past, just as it was?

Mowry Beach will be self-published later this year.  I have chosen that method, as I believe it provides the best insurance that my granddaughter will be able to access the story.  Whether she reads it through, believes any to be true, or values the knowledge – all that remains to be seen.  I really don’t expect others to read this tale, and don’t care if none do.  Only that she does.

May 15, 2012      Now into the much-feared second draft!   I find myself waking up in the middle of the night, recalling long-submerged details of events from forty years ago.  These details make their way into the manuscript, but at what cost?  Had I known that returning to the magic caves would mean surrendering bits and pieces of my sanity I may have chosen to not do this project.

July 6, 2012  I have come to the understanding that a project like this one may never be fully completed; it must be simply terminated, with regrets.   The total word count – exceeding 65,000 – is not the issue.  The real issue is that every event has an anticedent, and in like manner can be traced back to the dawn of time.  Nothing ever happens in a vacuum, and telling the complete story of a brief portion of a short lifetime could easily pass the million word mark.  So what is it that the reader will tolerate?  The little angel sitting on my right shoulder whispers in my ear, “Go ahead – tell how this happened.”  Then the little devil sitting on the opposite side chimes in; “You idiot!  Nobody cares how it happened.  It happened, get over it.”

So what is the take-away for all this?  Remember the song by War, Spill The Wine?  The lines, “Naked to the world, in front of, every kind of girl,” come to mind.  I have stood on that mountaintop, naked, with no idea where my pants have gotten off to.

Mowry Beach has been sent to Lulu; as soon as I get the cover completed it will be on Amazon.  All 65,000 naked words.

September 28, 2012  Still not on Amazon.  Mowry Beach is available to the world on Lulu, but hardly anybody shops there.  Funny thing, Murphy’s Bar and Grille was set up over a long weekend, published via Lulu, and has been on Amazon for two weeks already, despite being published subsequent to Mowry.  Go figure.  What about Murphy’s, you ask?  (Go ahead, ask!)  Look at the blog entry ‘Your Fly Is Down, Sir.’

 

Posted March 30, 2012 by JD Rule

2 responses to The Persistence of Memory

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  1. I too, John, have long been preparing an extended document, part biography, part journal, part ethical will, for my long grown son (no grandchildren yet). Word processing helps enormously (remember tyepwriters?) and allows easy inclusion of many photographs.
    Yet permanency concerns me. Type onto archival, even ordinary bond paper, will last a long time. But ink-jet photos even on archival paper? Laser printing, though preferable, lies beyond my means. Digital preservation? My son probably prefers to read on his “mobile device,” which hoiwever goes through a new generation annually. Claims that “gold” CDs last a hundred or more years? But will hardware to read them exist in thirty years?
    Gutenberg got it right.
    Ron

  2. Hi Ron – Good to see you here. What is permanence? Your comments about the evolution of technology rendering digital files unreadable in just a few years is spot-on. Read up on what happened to the original hi-def video taken when Armstrong set foot on the moon – material that should have been protected but was not.

    A few years back I had the honor of gazing on The Book Of Kells. The colors were all bright, the words lay on the page sharp and clear – but I couldn’t read a word of it.

    It sounds like your intent is similar to the one I had in mind when I wrote Mowry Beach. Having the book on the shelf is no guarantee against destruction, although I have no doubt the physical book would, if properly stored, last 50-100 years. The best protection, the way I see it, is to have it out in general circulation.

    By the way, the photos in Mowry Beach were all taken in the 60’s, but scanned during 2011, and have as much contrast as they did when I first printed them. Silver-based photography, given the right processing and storage, can easily last 100 years.

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