Sunday, May 1, 2016

Conundrum

W.F. has added another voice to the chorus advocating for the publication of memoirs. I will take this, as they say, under advisement.
I am reminded of a novice who pointed out to me that when he asked permission to do something of an ambiguous nature, I usually said, "We can talk about that."
"Your point being ...?"
"That always means you are going to say no"
"No, it means we can talk about it. When we do, however, I admit that the odds are heavily on the side of me saying no. And you know why."
He did.
My own novice master, a man I still admire deeply and from whom I learned a great deal, would immediately say no to requests from novices and students. The other novices and/or students started getting me to do the asking, claiming that he always said yes to me. He didn't; he always said no. But I discovered that if I waited a day or two and came back with the same request, he often agreed to it. Whether he needed the time to think it over or what, I have no idea.

To borrow a few lines from the wearisome Wacky in WhoVille's opening pages, 
As I glance back at what I have said so far, I realize that I seem to have fallen into the Bertie Wooster-esque trap of beginning at the wrong place and confusing the potential reader. Let me backtrack, start at the beginning, as someone wisely suggested, go until I come to the end and then stop.
If I can.
 The version of my autobiography/memoirs that I wrote over the course of November 2013 exists now in a version of some 319 pages, formatted for a volume the size of the WhoVille books. Wicca in WhoVille is 396 pages, far and away the wordiest of my fiction. Obviously I could make major cuts to the memoirs and still have a book.

I am giving this serious consideration. My problem is that at two or three places in my story, events transpire -- you know, as they say in those dreadful pharmaceutical commercials, "Events, sometimes fatal, have happened." -- that I think are too important for the story to omit entirely but that I cannot  see my way to telling in any detail. And yes, sometimes this involves a level of confidentiality that is recognized generally even in civil law.

I feel like the characters in these cartoons:

Telling little or nothing might make it even worse.  The reader, left to wander in the dark, might assume something bad happened when it was more in the nature of a miracle. Or vice versa.

What to do? What to do?

Continue taking it under advisement. The practical thing I am doing is going back and editing (yet again!!!) those parts of what I have written that create no such conflict. Perhaps along the way, a happy solution to my problem will happen.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Michael, I am contrite. I must beg your forgiveness for causing you, as your text reveals, disquiet and for reviving traumas (see below).

A good biographer must also be a good psychologist, able to look below the surface and understand what the person under study went through in life. I deduce that the episodes you refer to caused you deep traumas which a retelling in public will not purge or dispel but instead will deepen and exacerbate. If so, don't take up the text again. Let be.

I also apologize because I have been suggesting that you reveal all, while myself enjoying the benefits of anonymity. So I am laying off. Once again, forgive me. W. F.

Michael Dodd said...

W.F.,
I appreciate your kind words, but no apology is necessary. I felt no pressure from you in particular in this instance. You raise an issue that others have raised before you, others who have in fact read the original text and know what is involved. In the end, whether I go forward with the book in some form or other will be my choice.

I am grateful for your interest in my story as well as in my stories.

Mitchell is Moving said...

I so understand what you describe in this post and those two cartoons are perfect!

Anonymous said...

From a selfish perspective I would like you to publish your memoirs.
Kato