Several months ago I began writing a piece based on memories from a long ago journey I took. I decided I wanted to write strictly from memory, and not consult the journals I kept during my travels. It’s challenging, it’s interesting, and it’s fun even though I don’t know if most of what I’m writing is what really happened or something I made up, or something I’m making up even as I write.
I’ve started a new writing project, one based on a journey I took many years ago. It was a long journey: seven months, and a challenging one. I’d sold pretty much everything of value I owned—business, home, car—bought an around-the-world airline ticket and set off with little more than one suitcase and a handful of plans. I still have the journals I kept of my travels, as well as packets of letters I received at various locations, a few photographs. But I’ve decided not to reread the journals as I’m writing, but to just let the memories and the images appear in daily writing sessions.
“Memories are rooted in place: a lifetime of kitchens, backyards, porches, and patios. Our bedroom and our best friend’s bedroom, the street where we played until dark and our parents called us inside, the park where we picnicked, the swimming pool with its aquamarine water smelling of chlorine or the pond on the farm with its muddy banks. If you want to enter a memory, enter a room in your grandmother’s house. Remember an incident, and the place where it happened will figure prominently in the story. Everything happens somewhere, and if you want to bring the memory alive, be in the place where it occurred.