Every memoir is a work of fiction, every work of fiction is steeped in truth.
I’ve heard the above sentiment so many times on my writer’s journey so as I write the outlines for the short stories I am planning to write in July, I vehemently steer clear of anything even vaguely autobiographical. I am asking myself ‘what if?’ on a daily basis. A bit of horror, a bit of romance, a romantic-horror combo deal… The genres are undetermined at this stage. I figure I am just going to write them and then see if I can shove them in a little box. One thing is certain, they are all set in Paris.
As for my characters, they are a concoction of my mind…or are they…the lady with the Eye of Horus tattoo on her cheek, just under her own eye, is not a figment of my imagination. I saw her in Paris, at the FIAC Edward Hopper retrospective at the Grand Palais. I even snapped a photo, quite serruptitiously I hope. I’ll have to see if I can find it… And then I wonder as I write about a woman who faked a pregnancy and another who refuses to help someone in the street; who are these people? Sure, I know someone who faked a pregnancy and I knew someone years ago who refused to help a woman in the street, but why are these people coming out in my writing, and why now? And the mad, bad, sad things these characters are doing in my short stories are the only resemblance to the people I knew once.
It’s ironic that when I was writing the vignettes for the Remembering Paris memoir, I was reluctant to lay everything bare. I was nervous about writing about a one-night stand and I merely alluded to prescription drug and alcohol use…or was it abuse? What is an autobiography if it’s not 100% true? Well, that’s a memoir, isn’t it? Although there is a massive difference between creative non-fiction and just plain making shit up.
I keep giving up writing my memoir because I’m at risk of lying by omission. I really don’t want to face law suits from people who were horrible to me; I am more than happy that’s all in the past. So yeah, I’ll be checking my work for resemblances to people, living or dead. You can’t be too careful these days.