I’ve filled more than a dozen paper journal pages the past few days, and I don’t recall seeing a white rabbit, but I must have followed one. I slid into this hole while revising a story I wrote a couple of years ago about a birthday party I attended when I was ten. The story didn’t show little old me in a very flattering light to begin with, but kids are kids, and I was okay with that.

As I worked, with the thought of chinking in a few related memories, several additional memories about the birthday party bubbled up, and I began asking myself questions like, was (she) really that bratty? What would she be saying about me if she were writing a memoir? (That won’t happen. She died about twenty years ago.) Suddenly the story sounded mean spirited. She may be dead, and I may be changing the identity sufficiently that nobody would recognize her. But as I looked afresh at the thoughts I had written, even though they accurately reflect the thoughts I had then, I felt mean and spiteful. Those thoughts may accurately reflect the thinking of ten-year-old me, but sharing them with the public fifty some years later is another matter. It’s not a matter of covering up. It’s a matter of feeling mean and ugly all over again. The story is not about my transformation from then to now.

That led me to reexamine not only that relationship, but many others, and … I grew alternately tall and short. I’m still seeing lights fade in and out — and these are not lingering artifacts of my recent cataract surgery. I expect to be invited to play croquet any moment.

What is real? What is True? What is the story and where are its boundaries? The tension mounts.

This (confusion) too shall pass. I keep writing, whether on the manuscript or in my journal. My current inclination is that the birthday party is not at all related to growing up in Los Alamos, and might well be left out of the memoir. Perhaps it will work well in a later volume with a different purpose and focus. Or maybe I’ll find the right slant to tell it with a magic combination of historical and current Truth.

Yesterday I discovered the term Transformative Narrative in a brand new  Yvette Hyater-Adams’ maiden post on her new blog, Transformative Narratives. I plan to explore this writing/storytelling niche more deeply. As I read the post, a whole bell tower began pealing in my heart. I do believe memoir writing falls into this corral.

If my hunch is correct, when I emerge from the rabbit hole once again, I shall be a butterfly!

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