Memoir, Voice, and Knowing Thyself.
I must pause a moment, from editing my memoir, to reflect on the art of memoir itself.
I'm in the fourth year of active focus on my memoir. But of course, fragments of it have existed for many more years than that. I wrote, had professionally edited, and self-published, my first two books in the space of five years; yet the third book has dawdled. At times, I didn't touch it for months. I wonder why it's dragged its feet so much?
When I ponder this question, I find myself looking at the self-reflection aspect of memoir. Not just that; it's the articulation of self into an organised line. For that to occur, a clear concept of self must be attained. My sense of self was fragmented by trauma; which means that in order to finish the memoir, I needed to heal.
Coupled with that, for eight years, my home life was plagued with triggers that stole countless writing days from me. During this time I was also teaching dance, which – although it funded my writing education – was more depleting than I realised at the time. My creative life resembled a single piping bag with multiple holes, trying to decorate multiple cakes at once. This multi-tasking – said to be the mystical domain of women – only added to the fragmentation of my psyche. It was difficult to articulate my identity into a consistent narrative voice. Who was I? A writer? A dance teacher? A mystic? My marketing efforts consisted of an eternal quest, to find a way to unite these disparate parts of myself into a unique brand. It was exhausting, my voice a strident collective – maddening.
But chaos seeks to order itself, and my personal universe is now spinning as it should; balanced and generative. Some things had to be spun away: my former, noisy, home; my business, Majickal Bellydance; some people; healthy knees – apparently I needed my knees knocked out from beneath me, to get me to my desk. But what I'm left with functions with more stability, routine and productivity.
Now I see that what remains of my life – the quintessence – has become more artistically enabling. I've sent parts 1-3 of my memoir to beta-readers. I'm reading daily; including an esoteric book by Dion Fortune, that is stirring up the cauldron of my metaphysical education; and some research into memoir, and speculative fiction. My head is filled with poetry, and I've been perusing hundreds of my previous poems – floating, unedited, in the cloud. I've been pitching for teaching jobs – as a writer. The energy for all of these tasks is now available to me. And in that focus, I see myself clearly. I am writer. I am mystic.
As I review this combination – writer plus mystic – the union sparkles with potency; and I clearly see myself in the mirror of self-reflection, as an author of speculative works. This realisation is making things snap in my mind, like a row of Tetris bricks, everything in its place. A lifetime of esoteric reading; plus, a lifetime of writing ambition; equals, esoteric writing. My first two books are in that vein, but I'd felt as if the memoir was a departure from my earlier work.
But as I prepared my draft for beta-readers, I could see that the magic has never left me. It reveals itself still, in the words and metaphors I've chosen to illustrate my life. I no longer run Majickal Bellydance, but I'm still magical. Speculative fiction will allow me to ensoul the rest of my work with the spirit of my magical development. It's a genre that will allow me to work more creatively; something I've enjoyed as I've written my memoir. Speculative fiction is a genre that will allow me write as big as I think.
I'm not a big reader of science fiction or fantasy, but as my fourth book is clearly speculative fiction with some sci-fi and fantasy elements, I'll be researching the genre as I write. It seems obvious now; my second book is called Multidimensional Meditation, and speculative fiction will give me a broad field on which to project my multidimensional universe.
So, this is me, turning – I think – into a spec-fic author. It feels exciting. It feels economical, to utilise and honour the symbolism I've been absorbing for nearly half a century. Combining two callings affirms who I am, who I've always been; and helps me to articulate my bourgeoning creative ideas with a clear and consistent voice.
My next task is to find that clear and consistent voice on this blog. Since I've been preparing to pitch my memoir, I've struggled to decide how to present this website. I feel that, at least for a while, I need to focus less on how-to articles; and more on my personal writing process.
Anyhow, time to get back to editing – Chapter 32, The Witching – a chapter illustrating how my voice starts to articulate itself more clearly in my world. A fun chapter, but I know where it's going; so I'll be steering my writing vessel into some choppy waters – with a touch of magic.
Wishing you good creation.
Leanne Margaret © 2023
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