“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Gandhi, Indian leader
Damn, these goodbyes are getting harder.
Today I said goodbye to John, the moderator of my Deadwood Writers Group.
He challenged me in the early stages of my memoir. The scene I submitted for critique was about how my Dad was friends with my college roomie. I wrote something like, “Sometimes he talked to her more than me.”
“How did that make you feel?” John asked. “Jealous?”
That was an odd question. He was trying to get at my underlying emotion. Dad did talk to Roomie more. Did they have a special connection? Dad had special connections with all my friends. Was this different since deliver together?
There was something there, and I said, “Yeah, I guess.”
“Then that’s what you want to say, to convey to the reader,” he said.
I thought about that during the meeting. No, it wasn’t jealousy I felt, but I couldn’t come up with the right word. I walked out of Barnes & Noble annoyed that John would think I felt such a petty emotion. I was also embarrassed that he could be right.
To this day, I know jealousy isn’t the word. I’m not sure what it will be in the final edit, but the scene will be more powerful from John’s observation. Memoirs are all about emotion. For the reader to feel emotion, the writer has to feel that emotion. That’s where memoirs become challenging to write. It can be tough to find the raw emotion, and rougher to feel that.
John gave me a valuable piece of my writing puzzle that day. He may not realize what a gift that was; he was simply critiquing a chapter I chose to share with the group.
That’s when I felt the raw goodbye. I may never be here, in person, with this group again. I choked and cried the entire drive back. Not those little dribbles, mind you, but the red-faced, sunken eyes, I-hope-I-can-hide-this-by-splashing-water-on-my-face kind of tears.
What terrifies me now is that I have two weeks until I say goodbye to the writers group. I don’t want to be me on February 15.