In case you didn’t know, I’m still posting my memoir over in my writing blog, and the latest installment is a doozy.
Like I’ve already said a billion times, I’ve been working on my memoir for about three years. Actually, probably more like four or five. The first non-fiction writing class I took was the fall of 2004, several months after my ex confessed to his affair and his mistress’ pregnancy. The class was for alumnae of my college, and the nights were dark and cold when the 10 of us would gather together and talk about our writing.
I wrote about everything except what was happening in my life. I wrote about China and my cousin; I wrote about a cruise I took with my family. With all of my essays, people wondered, “Where are you in this? What’s happening with you?”
I could only write about what was happening in secret and second or third person. One assignment was to write an essay, “On. . .” some subject. I wrote “On Cheating”:
There are many different kinds of cheating. The first we learn of is cheating at a game. You want to win, but you’re not good enough, and so when the other person isn’t looking, you move the pieces around. Or you want to show that you got two sides – two sides! – on the Rubik’s cube, and so in the next room you swap the stickers.
It escalates to:
Then there is cheating on your spouse. Your partner, your lover, your significant other. However, the definition of this kind of cheating is blurred. Of course there’s sex. No ifs, ands, or buts about that. But what about a kiss, or kisses? What about letters, phone calls, e-mail messages? What about feelings and thoughts? Are all of those cheating? Are any of them? There are no rules written down, unlike for games, tests, and money. Probably there should be.
It’s not a game or a test. It’s something like stealing, stealing your man, stealing your innocence, stealing your chance to be the first one to bear his child (there was one years ago, but you had an abortion – was it wrong? are you being punished?).
Sometimes in class the teacher would ask us to read our pieces aloud. I prayed that she wouldn’t ask me; luckily she didn’t.
I really started to write publicly about what had happened after my ex and I separated, and I moved into my own apartment. I had a blog, which some of you might remember, “Diary of a Pissed-Off Asian Woman.” Till then I had been keeping a journal – in fact since I was 17 – but suddenly I needed to share my story, or at least feel like I was sharing it.
So that’s a long way of saying that over the years I’ve gotten used to writing publicly about stuff in my life, good and bad, to the point that I didn’t think this latest installment was even a big deal. But writing for a dozen strangers in class (or 50 online) is very different than knowing that your friends are reading your dirt.
There’s also the online factor. A book is more distant, squeezed on a shelf in a bookstore or library, the story safely hidden between two covers, silent till a reader opens it. On-line is in your face.
Do I worry about what others will think about what I’ve written? Sure. Of course I still get anxious sometimes about people I’ve written about in not such a great light, whose stories I’ve appropriated and blabbed. As for my own stories, I’m not worried so much about being judged for my decisions, but rather by the fact that there were some things in my life I didn’t tell all my friends, if only because I told those closest, geographically or otherwise, to me at the time, or because I couldn’t handle retelling what happened too many times.
But here are those stories in my memoir, and this blog. Writing all about myself is very easy. In fact, when I put my fingers to keyboard or pen to paper, I seriously can’t stop blabbing about myself. It’s like a disease. But the telling is hard. I guess that’s why I’m a writer.