“Excuse me, could you tell me if there is a memoir section?”
“Oh, yes, right over there…by that pillar,” she smiled and pointed to rows of books directly across from where we stood.
Of course, right under my nose. My sense of direction has always been terrible. I have learned to accept it and move on so to speak.
The hundreds of books enveloped me, a literary cocoon. I stood in the middle of the aisle, seeking inspiration from the work of hundreds of published authors. These books, their voices; I was straining to hear them despite the quiet that surrounded me. There were only the hushed voices of a father and son emitting from nearby. I may have appeared odd to them, my eyes surveying the rows of titles as I stood motionless.
After two weeks of faithfully writing my memoir, I hit a plateau. I suspect I will hit countless. It is a challenging topic and the doubt has been insidious. Will I be capable of doing it justice? To state it plainly, I know it is not good enough yet. But, I also know if I continue to challenge myself and to trust in this process, the message I am entrusting in it is compelling.
I select a handful of memoirs and find a wooden chair and desk by a large window to settle myself. I review the summaries, skim some passages, check the page length (it is all about word count I am learning), and read about the authors. It becomes evident that the memoirs that I could easily write (in quality and in style) were completed by celebrities- no fair, an automatic shoe in. The quality memoirs are written by a professional columnist, journalist, and other established authors.
‘Okay, the chances of my memoir hitting these shelves can be equated to winning the lottery,’ I admit to myself rising from my seat.
It is unfortunately revealing that I could not find one memoir on my topic, mental illness. I feel frustrated and unsettled because of this as I exit the store. Even more unnerving, as a writer solely by hobby, am I equipped to broach this topic? There is the doubt I spoke of. ‘Mary, stop. There is no deadline. Take the time you need. Make the effort. No woulda, coulda, shoulda’s’
I appreciate that this will be a marathon, a labor of love. It is demanding another level of me. And, whether or not it is greeted by an audience of one or of one hundred, I can only hope to be a voice. One voice, but a voice nonetheless. A voice seeking to dismantle the stigma of mental illness. A voice for everyone who is affected or loves someone who is affected. Although the silence is often deafening and the darkness glaring, you are not alone. There is an after. One such example, me tapping on my keyboard in the stillness of my August mornings. I am an after; recreating our family’s story because of this unquenchable desire to instill hope and peace in an oftentimes indifferent world.