Front Moving In

Front moving in on Nov. 4, 2022.

The dry spell broke yesterday with an inch of rain. It’s not enough to slake our thirst, yet was welcome. I got a walk in before it started.

On the final weekend before the midterm election I’m already thinking beyond it. Democrats have a chance in some of the races, so seeing how the statewide effort concludes is paramount. After that, it’s back to writing.

My blog posts are more first draft than polished pieces. I find myself editing them for the 24 hours following when a post goes live. With autobiography there are significantly more edits and rewrites. It takes a different frame of mind and results in a better final product.

Writing a chapter of autobiography begins the same way as short form writing, by getting a story down on a document, usually on the computer. During edits, true idea development occurs. Both my understanding of the subject and the narrative improves as a result of each rewrite.

This winter’s writing session will include reading what I’ve written thus far. I won’t get bogged down in rewrites at this time. I want to tackle the next sections which include time at university, a trip to Europe, military service and graduate school (1970 – 1981). Part of this period is reckoning with my home city and making the decision to leave permanently. It was one of the richest times and is well documented in journals and papers. Because of increased historical record, there is more research and work to do finding everything and pulling it together.

I just finished reading Alice Wong’s memoir Year of the Tiger: An Activist’s Life. It is the sixth memoir or autobiography I read this year and by far the most engaging. The reason is the subject of a disabled person’s life is so different from mine. The use of fragments of edited previous writing and essays is an issue I’ve been dealing with in my autobiography. Should such texts be included unedited, or edited for clarity? It was useful to see how Wong handled it.

It does not seem necessary to present a single narrative in chronological order, hanging details of my life on a timeline like one would decorate a Christmas tree. At the same time, that narrative technique seems important during the period leading up to my leaving home in 1970. It continues to be needed until I finished graduate school, which marked the end of my formal, youthful experience and education. After that there are diverging threads (marriage, fatherhood, work, politics, creativity, and living in society for starters), too many to attempt to tie together in a single chronology. They all proceed from 1981 until the present.

Another thing is I don’t want to write that much about people still living, especially family. Each person’s memories are different with different emphasis. Sorting that out in a memoir doesn’t seem important. While I will write descriptions of specific events, I seek perspective, not truth.

Rain is forecast until I begin my shift of political canvassing this afternoon. I’m not sure how to dress. I know I’ll be thinking about writing while walking from door to door.