Friday, July 27, 2018

With a Little Help from My Friends

Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song
And I'll try not to sing out of key

            I spent a week on San Juan Island in mid-June. Every morning I sat at a small table in a lovely guesthouse perched on a hill, with a panoramic view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Canada only eight miles in the distance. Laptop open, I dug deep, at peace in the solitude and beauty surrounding me.
            When my writer friend offered me this solitary writing retreat, I grabbed at it with both hands, grateful for the time and place to complete the draft of my latest memoir project. My friend was the perfect host. She left me alone. I wrote from early morning until late afternoon, when it was time for a shared dog walk and dinner. By week’s end, the draft was complete.
The Ex-Mexican Wives Club is the story of my ex-pat years in Mexico City in the early 1980s intertwined with the story of reconnecting with the women I once knew there thirty-five years later. Each of these women is an integral part of the story about a time that left an indelible mark on all of us. I know I have opened Pandora’s box of memories, not only for myself, but for all of us by writing this memoir.
From the small table perched on the hill, I sent the completed draft to seven women inviting each to share any comments, concerns, corrections she may have. Then, I packed my bags, caught the ferry, and headed for home. Within days, I had heard from most of the seven and my heart sang with delight.
As another writer friend told me: That’s what memoir writing is all about. That’s what this memoir is – the threading together of your life. Her comment made me think of the story quilts Sue Monk Kidd describes in The Invention of Wings. The creation of memoir through patches of cloth, images to tell stories, images threaded together in much the same way a memoirist threads story and creates images through words on the page.
I may not be able to stitch a straight line or sing in tune, but I certainly could not get by without the help of my friends.


Jan said...

What a lovely friend!

arleen said...

Thanks for reading, sharing, and commenting,Jan!