Examining The Ingredients
Laws are like sausages; it’s better not to see either being made.*
By which, of course, we mean that there are some things that we simply must enjoy and not worry about how they came to be. And there are some things that we cannot enjoy if we know how they are made.
All of which has very little to do with what we’re talking about today, but I like the aphorism and it does imply something about ingredients and that, friends, is why we’re gathered here today.
In our last post, I talked about how I’d recently competed in and finished the BattleFrog obstacle race series 8k run in Charlotte, NC. I gave you a brief overview of what it was like competing in the mud, as well as the horrible exertions I had to endure to make it across the finish line on my own two feet. As opposed to the relatively small, but statistically significant, number of people who had to be driven over the finish lines on the back ends of the medic trucks.
Essentially, I took that one memory and made a short memoir or personal essay from it, focusing not on any one thing, but, rather, on the memory as a whole. I took the event and created my memoir as essentially a timeline of smaller events. This happened and then that happened and then that happened.
While this can be an effective manner in which to relate a memory and turn it into a
memoir, it’s not necessarily the best. As I mentioned previously, to successfully sell your memoirs, you’re going to need to find a way of taking an intensely personal experience and making it into something that you can relate to a wider audience.
Sure, your mom, dad or cousin might buy a memoir that’s only focused on you, and has no applicability to anyone other than you. . . Though I’m pretty sure you’re not going to be making many sales beyond those three people. Even if the cousin is a conjoined twin, I still say they’re going to share a copy rather than purchase two. That’s aside from the point, though.
To create a story that’s relatable to a wider audience, I find it’s necessary to take part of the event and focus on the more meaning rather more than on the actual thing that happened.
For instance, I casually remarked that I’d done this obstacle race because a year previously my wife had run the race while also saying with absolute certainty that I was not in good enough shape to finish it with her.
Sense of Direction
That bit, right there. . . That can be the basis for any number of different takes on the actual event, as filtered through the eyes of a married man. I could focus on the bit about being a man and hating to have my athletic prowess questioned (even if my most difficult exercise is walking the dog [well, strolling with the dog while he sniffs and waters every three feet]). I could focus on the depth of stupidity to which I will gleefully excavate myself when I think I need to show I am . . . a man! Both of these could easily support comedic retellings of up to 1,500 words. Easily.https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/esther_perel_the_secret_to_desire_in_a_long_term_relationship.html
Or, I could go in a more serious direction, and talk about the distance that grows between long-married couples, lamenting the breakdown in communications which can lead to resentments and anger. This decision also could benefit from bringing in outside sources, such as books I’ve read about how to invigorate a long-time relationship, or how to deal with anger. Maybe even include a clip from the Esther Perel TED talk that’s created quite a high level of interest among those who study relationships and love.
The reason I made mention of those two (possibly three) directions is because I think that they could lead to the most viewers or readers to the memoir. While not everyone might be in the mood to read about the Saturday where someone they didn’t know went out and did some sort of exercise thing or other. . . Almost everyone can identify with doing something stupid just to prove a point that probably wasn’t even being made by someone else and was all in their head. Although, oddly, I think I might identify a bit too closely with that, looking back on some of the things I’ve done.
I also think that most people in a relationship could identify with or want to see how someone else handled discovering a growing chasm between themselves and a partner. It can be quite shocking, especially if it comes from something so seemingly innocuous as running an an obstacle course race. The feeling of suddenly discovering what you thought was solid ground is actually loosely aggregated silicon grains sliding across a sharply declining slope is both recognizable and frightening at the same time.
Next Time On. . .
We’ll move to the related subject of getting comfortable being naked in public.
Yes. Really. It is related. Promise. Well. . . You’ll just have to come back next time and see, won’t you?
*This aphorism often is attributed to Prince Otto von Bismark, though a more likely origin is from John Godfrey Saxe. FSM, I love stuff like this. Seriously. I know this makes me more of a geek than most are comfortable admitting, but this stuff is fascinating. Simply fascinating.