After reading Martha Alderson’s article Writers Travel Two Journeys a few days ago on her blog, I realize I’m now clearly in the middle of my memoir. I have finished my freewriting and searching about the transition between the end of the Beginning and the beginning of the Middle. Her tips about ‘the point of no return’ helped me to recognize what for me was the point of no return: moving to the suburbs at the age of nine. I had no control over the move and there was no going back. Much as I’d dream about returning to my home on Charles Street, I couldn’t go home again either metaphorically or realistically. Many things had changed.
I heard an interview recently on CBC with Salmon Rushdie in which he talks about two archetypes regarding home: the dream of going home again and the dream of leaving home or the spirit of adventure. An inherent conflict exists between the two, between the comfort of home and the journey of the traveler. This pull is at the heart of so many great stories.
The meaning for me in Rushdie’s comments was that my struggle was a universal struggle. If it hadn't occurred when I was forced to move at age nine, it might have naturally happened later in my life. But, then the effect would have been different. In that case, I might have put more energy on the opposite side of the coin, the leaving home for adventure side. My story and perhaps my character would have been different.
But this was my history and this is the story I have to tell. The trick is to make it engaging for others by telling the small personal details while tapping into universal archetypes and themes.