Ideas appear for me either in a shout and burst or creep like a thaw so slow the ground only becomes workable in time for the next frost. On the front page of the LA Times Sunday "Arts and Books" section, a boxed promo mentioned something about a writer returning to memoir. I haven't yet read the article, but already those few words took me down a different street.
Bits of memoir elbow their way into some posts, usually because one thing reminds me of another and I dig up the shard of history to which it has referred me. When people-in-writing started to call the telling of one's own story creative non-fiction I thought, with a device like a rib-spreader to open my head, I might be able to fashion such a work. This was not to be; my stitches were uneven, my seams bunched, and the whole business was amateurish and embarrassing.
Why it had never occurred to me that memoir, rather than being something cathartic or painfully intimate or narcissistic, could be an opportunity for creative writing, a chance to practice writing poetically in prose form, I can't say. I am very glad that I didn't keep that secret from myself forever. The awareness is only that; it is not the beginning. What is does offer, though, is the possibility of approaching a story I didn't feel needed to be told, which it may not. But what if ordinary - this is where the poets step forward - can be made into something more. As I attempted it, memoir was a leaden thing that even I couldn't tolerate. Soon I will drag some of the pieces out of the drawer into which I stuffed them and see if I overlooked a potential for something more; not because it's my story but because I may have discovered a new way in which to see and present it, like any story. At the very least, it is an option, an opportunity, a sound ecological practice. Making something pleasing from what looked like residue. In theory, at least, it doesn't seem impossible.