Sunday, March 24, 2013
A Literary Life
I am reading Carolyn See's book on writing "Making A Literary Life" and it is bringing to mind my life thus far. Have I lived a writer's life? Only in the last couple years have I focused on my writing. Yet, I feel as if I had to live a non literary life to get here.
To a place where writing is my focus and where I put my efforts. For so many years, especially when I started writing in 2006, I thought my voice had no value. It took VONA, a writers' workshop in the Bay Area for writers of color, to change that.
About six years ago, I took my first class with the amazing Faith Adiele and I was intimidated and scared. Who was I to be so presumptuous to believe I belonged in this class of writers? By the first day of class, I was a nervous shaking mess of a woman.
Fuck, I'd been to law school at USC and was never this scared. I almost left before I even began. I was terrified to open myself up to a room of strangers. To let them see my childhood chaos and the damage it had wrought on me. But, somehow I stayed and it turned out to be the most amazing experience of my life. Faith and my writing group were complimentary and supportive. It was exactly what I needed and I made friends for life.
The experience changed me. After VONA, I mutated into a different me. I decided to quit my job at a large firm and went to the Public Defender's office. I found that I still had passion for the law.
Writing memoir made me want to live a better life.
I have returned to VONA every other year since and the workshop and its group of writers and talented teachers have sustained and inspired me to keep writing.
That's the funny thing about memoir. We, as writer, narrator and protagonist, get to make our own endings by our choices in life.
Ultimately, I choose to live a literary life and write about it. And dammit, I want my memoir to have a happy ending.