I've been working on my memoir for more than ten years. I started writing again in my thirties, while working as a big law lawyer in Houston, Texas. Law school had sucked creativity out of me. They taught me to write in legal form. But, in the process, USC Law failed to remind that you can always be creative.
Depression and late nights as a big firm litigator brought my creativity back. Always a better writer when sad rather than happy, I would stare out my high rise window and poems would come pouring out of me. I would collect them on poets.com and read them, wondering what the hell I was doing with my life.
Life had went a place I never expected. For the first time in my life, I had plenty of money. Yet, I was desperately unhappy. I was all by myself in Texas. Yes, I had friends. Making friends had never been a problem for me. But, my boyfriend of ten years (who later became my husband) had stayed behind in Southern California to finish his last semester at Cal Poly and apply to dental school. And, my crazy dysfunctional family was now thousands of miles away. I missed them.
In my apartment, I had little furniture except Leopold Bloom, a black cat I had named after the protagonist in James Joyce's Ulysses, and my books.
The poems I wrote out there in Texas started out a bit melodramatic with echos of Dickinson and Plath, my poetic heroines. Eventually, I turned to prose and memoir.
Those first poems paved a path for me, however, to rediscover myself. And years later, while in San Francisco with my boyfriend turned fiancé who was attending dental school at UCSF, my dad died suddenly three weeks after Christmas and his pancreatic cancer diagnosis.
His death forever changed me. Within a couple of years, I would change jobs to become a deputy public defender and be attending writing workshops at VONA at USF and UC Berkeley. The stories, many of which comprise the opening chapters of my memoir, would come pouring out like water that had long been bottled up. All those memories turned into stories. Stories I am proud of.
The problem with memoir is that you must pick an end point. And now, that is where I stand, looking at it all with a furrowed brow. In some ways, I am no longer the burgeoning writer who wrote those first stories, but in other ways I am. Maybe, after the last ten years and my struggles with fertility and anxiety, I don't know who I am anymore.
Ultimately, I may just have to find myself to finish this damn book.