Narrating stories is as old as history itself.
In writing about my childhood growing up in India, it’s mostly pain that I highlight: writing allows us to search the depths of our being – to excavate, sort, pile, discard, and heal.
Writing a personal narrative comes with mixed emotions, an eclectic blend of agony and relief – the agony of making experiences explicit, the relief that comes from giving them form.
As W. M. Thackeray, the 19th century English novelist stated, “There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write.” In this way, a narrative becomes a process as well as a product – a healing process as well as a priceless product.
Narrating stories is as old as history itself – being one of the fundamental ways a society’s culture was passed on through generations. Not surprisingly, narrating stories is one of the first skills we learn as children as we expound on our adventures. Sometimes the stories we narrate are those of others. At other times they are self-narratives relating to our personal journey.
As we grow from being children to adults, we spend more time narrating other people’s lives than looking at the frailty of our own emotions. Maybe it’s due to the fact that we have gotten accustomed to gossip, to being privy to celebrities’ lives. Yet, there is a distinction between what is relayed and what is narrated. To draw an analogy, it’s akin to a pesticide-filled apple versus an organic apple – they look only slightly distinguishable but vary immensely in their nurturing.
Reading memoirs is a privilege.
I’ve realized that fact only after I started penning my own. I don’t know if my memoir will ever see the light of day, or if I actually want it to see the light of day. You see, I’ve realized something along the way of writing my own – the catch with most memoirs is that they highlight folk in a not-so-pleasant-light which may ultimately lead to ripple effects of alienation, hostility, or unwanted sympathy – a writer who publishes a memoir has obviously accepted the fact.
Now, every time I pick up a personal narrative, I silently thank the author for allowing me a glimpse into her private emotions, for allowing me to access the depth of human experience as I live through her personal encounters, for allowing me to realize that I am not alone in my journey- that at the very core we are all the same, that we all experience the same emotional frailty, and lastly, for giving me a chance to walk in another’s moccasins. If that is not a privilege, I’m not sure what is.
What moves you?
Sites That Link to this Post
- Discipline of Writing. Writing as a Discipline. : Women Writers, Women Books | April 5, 2012
- Day 28 of 365 ~ Magic Mirrors « Observing Ourselves Observing | January 9, 2012
- Memoir: Agony and Relief « Observing Ourselves Observing | January 5, 2012
- Friendships with Women: Getting by with a Little Help from Friends : Women Writers, Women Books | August 14, 2011