Sunday, May 22, 2011

Too Long or Too Short?

I have been writing and rewriting a story since fall of 2008. Too short to be a novel - too long to be a short story. At this point, it will probably be a novelette. I call it an unconventional memoir because it's not my life story, but that of my older brother. He died at 34 years old two hours after I turned 29. I have wrestled in my brain for years trying to understand his life: why he made the choices he did, what propelled him down his path - and came to discover how his life (in a strange way) helped to shape who I became as a person. His was a rough life though he had the same opportunities that I had. But writing through his memoir has been cathartic to me (as I've attempted to invade his mind) and it has also brought up many things from my own past. 

We all recall our history differently. Try it. Think of something in your life and discuss with a parent or sibling and see how you each remember elements of that period in a particular way. Yesterday I took a virtual tour (thanks to google maps) through one of my childhood towns. A very small town near the panhandle of Texas. Yet I was able to recall those streets and knew which one would take me towards my elementary school and the town pool. The house I remember spending the crux of years with that brother seemed so much smaller - I looked at the porch where I can see him screaming at my mother as I clutched a pipe in my hand to defend her if the fight progressed or the bedroom window we shared where he would jump from to escape something occurring inside the walls. Looking at a single photo can open the flood gates of memories and yesterday those memories were a mixture of caustic and treasured.       

It suddenly strikes me as I try and classify this memoir that my brother's life could fit into that same classification. Death at thirty-four was a novelette too: too long and too short. I'm not sure when I will finally complete this piece...as I never think something I write is truly finished. But the journey has been well worth it. Hopefully readers will agree. 

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