Writing memoir is a tricky business – work in progress

Blaise 1977. Photo by Lin Van Hek

Writing memoir is a tricky business. What POV do you write in, what style, how much detail? I’ve decided to write from my childhood self. The hard thing about that is to try to not bring in too much of my adult understanding into the story. It’s impossible, really, and it takes a lot of reworking to make it work. Here’s some work in progress:

Markie brought mail from town. Mama is sad after reading a letter because her granny died. I can’t really remember Granny Whitehead very well – only a little old lady with white hair. I know that’s not why she’s called Whitehead. That’s her actual last name.

Mama walks down to the river to be by herself and have a good cry. That’s the best thing to do when you’re sad. Now that Granny Whitehead is gone, I guess there won’t be two dollars a week in Mama’s bank account. But I don’t think that’s why Mama’s sad. She’s sad because she loved her granny and her granny looked after her when her own mama was too busy. Granny Whitehead made Mama feel special when her own mama was mean to her.

Today seems to be the day for people to be dying because on the radio we heard that Elvis died. He died sitting on the dunny doing a poo.

Will Elvis be in the blood and bone now? Couzie asks. We try not to laugh when he says things like this but it’s hard because he’s always saying something funny and then we get into trouble for showing off. It’s good to see Mama laugh after crying about her granny. When she laughs her eyes crinkle up like mine.

Actually Granny Whitehead didn’t die the same day as Elvis. It took a while for the letter to come from Melbourne to the Cobargo post office, which means that she probably died a few weeks ago. Mama’s sad about that too. She didn’t get to say goodbye and she was being happy in the bush not even realising that her granny was gone.

To make us feel better, Markie makes strawberry junket, my favourite. It takes a long time to set but the kookaburras have just started laughing. They’re laughing so hard that they will probably fall out of the trees. When they laugh like this we know that it’s only about ten minutes until it gets dark and then we’ll have dinner and the strawberry junket will be ready.

Mama doesn’t seem so sad any more, now that she had a good cry. I want to ask her if Granny Whitehead is going to be in the blood and bone like Elvis but I don’t know if she’ll like the question. Only Couzie knows how to ask these things. Maybe because he doesn’t think too long about them before he asks.

***

I’m planning on publishing my memoir, The Road to Tralfamadore is Bathed in River Water, next year.  I have a lot of work still to do …

Blaise

 

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