When you are writing a memoir, each morning you sit at your desk and kill your father, slander your mother and shame your children. This is the price that you pay for seeking your version of the truth and that truth is like a wadded up ball of string that you pick away at slowly. You may be able to get a purchase on the beginning and the end, but the middle seems hopelessly riddled with knots.
Once you untangle the twine, you are not even half way there. You tie a hook on the end and throw it into a sea of words and hope to catch something, anything. Most days pass without a tug. Then, you feel a slight nibble and you struggle to reel it in. Sometimes the catch is too small, sometimes too big and still others are monsters with razor sharp teeth and dark eyes too terrifying to consider. You cut the line.
At night, when sleep eludes you, the words swim through your mind.
They shudder with a bright silvery flourish just beyond your grasp, but you try to remember. In the morning you say “Here, this is the spot,” and cast your line. If you are patient, you catch a few and then some more until the boat is teeming with words.
Once you have enough, you select the best and prepare them, fry them, broil them, bake them; add a bit of salt here, add a dash of spice there until they are ready to be consumed. You place your dish proudly in front of other fishers of words.
“This dish is too cold.”
“This dish is too hot.”
“This dish stinks.”
They pick apart the words and spit out the bones. They ask if you considered baking it less or baking it more or adding this spice or just throwing the whole damn thing out and starting all over again.
You swear off fishing for words.
“I can sit on the beach with my friends,” you say. They seem perfectly happy, you think. You rest. You drink. You go out to dinner, but you cannot stop thinking about the monster that lurks in the murky depths of the ocean.
The next morning, when the world is sleeping and your dreams are like the mist on the sea, your line breaks the glossy surface. You let it sink deeper and deeper until it reaches the abyss where the weight of the words on the string threatens to capsize the boat. You kill your father, slander your mother and shame your children. Because you know that if you don’t catch the words,the words will devour you.