Shelley Widhalm

Writing about the “Me”

In Shelley Widhalm, Writing, Writing Processes on January 12, 2014 at 11:00 am

The easiest and most difficult subject I’ve written about is me.

This “me” shows up in many of my characters, so that several of my female protagonists have long, reddish-brown hair, are tall and thin, and, of course, possess the nerdy love of reading, writing and all things relating to books. They have jobs I’ve had or jobs that I can imagine liking. And they think about some of the things I like to ponder.

Yet, they aren’t me, because over time I’ve learned to become less autobiographical with my characters, essential for a writer who wants to write more than one or two stories.

I find writing about the “me” difficult anytime I think about or begin planning my memoir about growing up with learning disabilities.

A few years ago, I tried writing my memoir, but the result was terribly boring. There were a few interesting and lyrical parts, but the overall story proved repetitive and fell flat. There was no arc to the telling with only a scattering of memories alternated with a story about my difficult relationship with a Mama’s boy.

In my redo, I’ll have to relive things I’d rather forget. Unlike my last attempt, I won’t be able to gloss over the tough, painful stuff. That’s because readers notice the omissions, even if they are a matter of repressed, hard-to-reach memories.

My first memoir attempt had a huge gap, as does my memory of my childhood and adolescence and what really happened to make me socially awkward and afraid. My second attempt will tell a full story with character and plot arcs with a hook and all the elements of fiction in play.

It just will take discipline, courage and hope to get there.

See next week’s blog on how to write a memoir.

  1. A memoir – that’s great! Looking forward to the post.

  2. Wow, that’s something new for me. I’ve never had a problem with writing about me, maybe it’s because I have been writing notebooks for 3 years now 🙂 Love what you wrote though 🙂

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