2014: The Year I Commit to My Memoir

admiral butterfly

First, separating my stories

If you’ve read some of the essays on this blog, you may have noticed that there are two parts to my story:

For a long time, I thought the story I needed to tell had to include both journeys. I envisioned writing a memoir that incorporated part 1 and part 2.

The idea never felt quite right, though.

In real life, the two journeys blended together, especially in the last year of Jim’s life and the first two years after he died, as I gradually transitioned from one to the other.

However, when I look back on them as stories, each journey has its own meaning. Its own theme. Although they are deeply connected, they are two distinct stories.

The cancer journey with my late husband was our journey, the one I shared with him. That experience led to, and profoundly impacted, my journey afterward.

But my personal journey was very different from the cancer journey. I knew that if I tried to write about them both, in the same story, one would overshadow the other. Neither would get the full attention it deserves.

So, after much debate with myself, I’ve come to accept that I have two separate stories to share.

Second, making a commitment to story 1

2014 is here, and I’ve decided: this is the year I will commit to writing a first draft of a memoir about the brain cancer journey with my late husband. I set a flexible goal of having it done by the end of the year.

In writing these words, I am setting the intention and making the commitment.

In May 2014, it will be five years since Jim passed away. Five years since I last saw his sweet smile. Or heard him playfully call me: his Groovy Chick, or GC for short.

I’ve done a lot of healing since then. I’ve moved forward with my life (with Jim in my heart), and I’ve been fortunate enough to have found love again. To have another kind, loving soul to share my life with.

But there’s a story in me, and it needs to be told. I’ve done a great deal of writing in the last five years. Scattered bits and pieces that have helped me heal and understand this journey I went on with Jim, that changed my life.

As much as I’ve wanted to, though, I haven’t been able to bring it all together, to create a fully developed book-length manuscript. An actual story.

After years of struggling, I’m finally ready to do it. I can feel the change in me. I publicly make the commitment here on my blog. 2014 is the year I will do it.

I will complete a first draft of my memoir. And I will write about the memoir writing journey here, while I’m doing it. I’ll share what I learn along the way, as I take my personal experiences and turn them into a story.

Third, making a promise to story 2

One reason I had a hard time separating the two parts of my story was that I worried about abandoning one while focusing on the other. There was this sense of urgency: I had to tell them both – now. Neither could wait.

Of course, that didn’t work. I paralyzed myself and got nothing done.

Now, I’m at peace about my decision. No more fighting what I know is right in my heart. I’ve decided to listen to my inner voice. And honor it.

Therefore, along with my writing commitment for 2014, I make a promise: later, after I complete the memoir for part 1, I’ll write about my personal journey after Jim died. I will return to story 2, and I give myself the flexibility to do it when the timing is right.

In the long run, I plan to write two memoirs. One for each story, giving both an opportunity to be fully explored.

Together, they’ll create a rich, complex picture of what the two journeys were all about and how one shaped the other.

* Photo credit: Image from Flickr by Carsten Frenzl