As I write my daughter, Justine’s life story I keep thinking of how she would likely be correcting me on the details if she was alive. Other people will likely set me straight after reading the book too. I’ve never had a very good memory. In fact one of my first memories is about forgetting to bring my art supplies to school in Grade One. The teacher had reminded us right before going home for lunch (as we did in those days). When I returned after lunch all the other kids had brought what was expected, except me. I had completely forgotten. Funny how I remember the details of that experience but had not remembered my art materials that day.
Writers often get lambasted when not getting all the facts straight. James Frey was publicly flogged by Oprah for doing just that. As the story goes, he had taken his novel in to be published when the company told him they would rather publish it as a memoir. It had been based on some of his experiences but not all was true. I loved his memoirs, “A Million Little Pieces” and “My Friend Leonard” and don’t care if it’s all true or not. I had the privilege of meeting James Frey at a book signing a few years ago. It was one of the highlights of my life. In many ways he inspired me to write this book.
My book is a true story but people will remember things differently and some of the chapters are based on experiences that I have conscientiously tried to forget and put behind me. I have consulted with my family to try to get the details right but I’m sure there will be things that are written out of sequence or parts I have left out. It’s a memoir and this is the way I remember it. It’s not a textbook where every detail is dated and recorded.
I often thought Justine might someday speak about some of her experiences. I never, ever thought I would be having to recall it all. It is certainly a life worth sharing and remembering. I hope it helps others who might be going through similar things to feel that they are not alone. I wish now that I had kept a diary but as it was happening I didn’t take the time to write it all down. I’m sorry if my recall is slightly off. It all really happened but some of the details are fuzzy. The book is called, “Not My Story To Tell”.
Do you have a good memory?
5 thoughts on “Memory”
What a beautiful beginning to justimes story, I can’t wait to read the rest….I keep a pic beside my bed, everyday it reminds me how short life could be and it puts all my struggles into a great perspective…..keep up the amazing job aunt Cathy…
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Thanks so much Angie. You were one of Justine’s greatest supporters.
I hope to be finished the book this summer.
[…] I wrote a blog about memory a couple of weeks ago and mentioned him in it. I sent the blog to James Frey’s company in the hopes he might read it and he DID! You can read it here https://cathylynnbrooks.com/2015/07/15/memory/ […]
Cathy – as writers it is a challenge to add multiple perspectives to what we write, to balance it out. I sometimes argue with my wife about my perception vs her perception – the way I see it vs the way she sees it. There is nothing wrong with the way we see things and how those experiences shape us – good, bad, or ugly. When I write about a memory, I’ll ask my mom or my brothers for clarification – of course they way I saw it and the way they saw it differed slightly. I once read a book for kids and each chapter was written from a different character’s point of view. I enjoyed it and have recommended to several of my students- it’s a great story to teach empathy. So sorry for the lengthy response – it’s how how you remember the story that’s important – your telling Justines life through your eyes. Go forth and write! Have a wonderful day.
Thank you for your lengthy response. This is really good feedback. What is your children’s’ book called? I would like to read it and give it to my niece.