I mostly write creative nonfiction, and mostly memoir. The “I” word shows up a lot in my writing. I’ve written before about how memoir can be a frightening place to go. For memoir to be successful, it has to be honest and requires the writer to go deep into the narrator’s soul. The narrator, of course, is the author. Personal stories take a lot of guts.
The other night a friend offered a suggestion to me about my recent writing on fatherhood. I’m working on a collection of fatherhood stories, all personal. The suggestion was one so deep and profound, it nearly knocked me over. The friend had observed something in my writing, related to my connection to my father and grandfather, linking directly to how I relate to my two sons. I won’t go into all of it here, but it was incredibly intuitive, perceptive. I must now find a way to work this into the focus of a story. It’s now a goal.
The point is this: no good writing of personal experience always requires uncomfortable moments. The writer has to squirm a bit to be sure the writing is touching the nerve centers. And when it touches the nerve centers of the writer, it surely will touch the nerve centers of the reader. And that is what any author wants – to resonate with the reader.
This is not to say all writing has to be profound, sad, close-to-the bone, but it must come from somewhere deep in the heart, the head, or the soul. Even if it takes someone else to point that out.