Tuesday, June 5, 2007

My memoir

It's been a while, I know. I've been mulling some things over. Plus, we went to Cozumel for a week, and I didn't do anything productive but rest and read. Actually, the reading led to some interesting thoughts. I picked up Augusten Buroughs new book, Possible Side Effects, and read it while in Mexico. I love him. I have read Running with Scissors and Dry as well. You should definitely read them. Don't just see the movie. :P He has such an amazing capacity for writing about horrific events and giving them a hilarious and forgiving perspective. Reading his memoirs has made me think a lot about my own writing and about my perspective and delivery of my many tales. For many years (many, many years), I was filled with bitterness and anger and looked at the entirety of my life as a sad tale not unlike Oliver Twist. I wanted people to feel badly for me. I wanted people to help me feel bad for myself. "Yes, Heather, you have truly suffered. You deserve to wallow in your misery forever." Much of my writing from before was filled with this bitterness and self-pity. It was lame and pathetic and sad. I knew it too. People have told me for years that I ought to write the story of my life. People seem to truly love reading my stories and hearing them (aside from a few in college who found my tales of PNG to be boring, too bad, so sad). But I felt like I couldn't really write about my childhood and family and all of that until I had really processed my anger and could look at things more clearly. There's still a lot of sadness there, just as there are in Augusten's stories. (yes, we're on a first name basis now). But instead of being just about the sadness, they are also about the humor of the situation and the absurdity of being human. He writes about discovering a McDonald's has gone in across from his apartment complex and how he proceeds to eat McDonald's for three months straight while also consuming vast amounts of alcohol. Depending on how you tell the story, it could just be a complete downer. But he writes with the wisdom of having passed through, of having the perspective to laugh at the absurdity, to identify with himself and his own weaknesses. He's aware of his issues, but he doesn't seem to like himself any less because of them. He makes it okay to be human. He makes you laugh at himself and about yourself and take a deep breath and smile.

Here's the thing though. While we were on vacation I kept thinking about how I would tell a given story. I kept thinking of how funny it would be to write about Marco filming me as I waddled into the ocean to pee. But I also thought about things that have happened in the last few weeks since my last writing, things that happened with my family. If I really write about them, the absurdity, the hilarity, it might make people upset with me. If I truly give my perspective on my trip to NYC with my sister and the encounter with my brother, it might hurt them in some way to read about my point of view. But, to someone who doesn't know them, it might sound perfectly fine. But one might not like to read about oneself on the Internet or in a book. So, I guess my point is that I'm not quite sure how to write about my life without stepping on a few toes. Is it worth the anger it might cause? Can I really "change names to protect the innocent" (or the guilty)? People will know it's them I'm writing about, and, if you know me, you'll know it's them. I mean, my E True Hollywood Story will give it all away.

So, I'm wrestling with this issue right now. I think I just might have to do some private writings that would be part of a book were I ever to publish one about my life. But that's such a bummer. For my friends, I know you would want to hear these stories now. Believe me, there's some funny stuff in there.

Maybe I just shouldn't worry about it and just write about things that don't relate to others. I can write about my enormous body and the belly that just won't stop. I can write about my crazy husband and how much he makes me laugh. He's totally peeling all over the place. It's ridiculous and disgusting (though I secretly don't think it's gross and mostly just think it's cool). I can write about my swollen feet and being stuck in my bed as soon as I get home each day. Oh, and my stretch marks. They are some beauties.

I think that sounds like a plan.

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