Honesty the Holy Grail of Memoir


After all the writing and writers, and being part of a writing community, I’m starting to feel like I’m getting a little sidetracked, mentally that is.  I’m not 25, 30, or even 40 anymore, and therefore, it’s beginning to feel like if just one more piece of information about writing comes my way through Twitter, Facebook, through web sites, at writing events or via Shelagh Rogers on CBC, then I am going to run screaming from the room and not stop running until I find the nearest pier.

When I get to the end of the last slat on that pier, I’m going to hurtle myself off it doing the biggest cannon ball ever.

In short, just one more reference to writing and I think I’m going to puke.

I realize that, for me, there is only one person I really need to listen to; really need to try and hear as loudly and clearly as possible in order to get the thing done and that’s myself. Writing, like therapy, might be the most difficult thing any of us can ever do in life. And the most difficult part of all of it is being honest with yourself – really honest about your human experience. More honest than you’ve ever been to anyone.

If you have done everything humanly possible to make whatever it is you are working on complete, then after that, whether it reaches the world or not, you’ve done the first part of the job only if you get keep going and finish the thing. Submit it to the journal. Send it to the publishing house. Find an agent. And let it go.

One of my most challenging things to live with as a writer is to keep believing in what I’m doing, to push aside my monkey mind and my negative self-talk that suggests I’ve dropped into some black hole of delusion.

I have to keep finding a way to believe that it makes sense to keep writing regardless of the fact that I am making next to no money to feed myself. I have to push aside every bit of advice about these being my top earning years with that voice screaming back every bit as loudly. I have to remind myself that getting to the end of life with a pile of money as one’s primary goal in life is an empty goal that has been blown way out of proportion.

The thing about writing is that if you have a compulsion to do it and do it daily, then you are a writer. A lot of people in our fame-crazed world don’t get that. You, as a creative person, have to find a way to come to terms with being able to stay strong in your rationale to yourself; a rationale about how you want to live and a definition of success that has very little to do with money because you must give your head a shake if you think that money’s current prominence as the only meaningful yardstick of everything makes sense.

You have to be willing to fail. And then get back up again.

All that matters is the writing that you are working on at the moment. All that matters is the story you are trying to get down and get right with right being your right, like your moral compass right. You have to be sure that the writing is first and foremost meaningful to you  because by accomplishing that first highly personal goal, you are doing what you  can to hope a few others might find it worth reading later.

In all those hours when you are alone and in your head, it’s hard not to get bogged down, to think that you have completely lost your mind and every once in a while you find yourself typing “Cheap rentals on deserted  islands” into Google because you just want to escape.

When I see myself acting the way I am lately, yet the word count continues to add up and the rhythm of the piece is beginning to sing and the story feels like the reader will embark on a journey, I sense that it’s even more important to keep going.

I have to believe it’s that same inner voice; the one that I’m trying to access to write, to get to the purity of what I’m trying to convey, that’s suggesting, as well, that I must be getting close.

PS: If you’re feeling the way I am, don’t read this.


  1. thx Gayle….i also “know” all these thoughts being an artist but good to know others experience the same self doubts about their work….truly enjoyed the blog

    1. Sherren! Hi. So nice to see your name on my screen. Hope you and Keith are well. I’m honoured that you even look at my blog. I know you would know some of the same feelings, in spite of your art being fantastic. I still have one of your cards on my bookshelf. Thank you for commenting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *