Since I got sick 10 years ago, I've read books and magazines erratically. When I was young, especially in my 20s, I was a great reader, but then I got involved with Brendan and spent most of my time watching TV and videos of movies. Then I fell into deep psychosis and I literally couldn't read or watch TV, so I turned to craftwork and audiobooks. Now I am returning to reading again because I don't have TV, though I still watch movies from time to time. Ironically, I am also a book collector. I have a ton of them, many of them only partially read or not read at all. The other day I decided to pick out a novel to read and wound up reading a book by Nick Hornby called High Fidelity. The book was turned into a movie starring John Cusak which I saw a few years ago and liked. I think my brother got me the book sometime afterwards. Though the movie was set in Chicago I think, the book takes place in London, which to my mind is more interesting. It's about a 35 year old record store owner. His girlfriend leaves him for another man and he begins thinking about all the relationships he's had since he was 12 or 13. Some of the writing is laugh aloud funny and it got me thinking about when I was 12. From there I returned to working on my memoir and began writing in my journal again. I also ordered a word processing/data base program for my computer called StoryMill that's made for Mac computers. This program is designed for writing books, especially novels. It's very well organized and even has a feature for seeing one's work in a timeline from start to finish. I'm very excited about getting this program because I've been having trouble organizing my work and this looks as if it will make that job much easier. I will get it by the end of this week, but I've already started trying to organize some of my ideas in my written journal.
The thing is, I want to write about my parents and grandparents as well as my brother and myself and really my whole life, but that's too much for a memoir. So I'm thinking I might be looking at writing two to three memoirs all told. I do want to write about my experience with schizophrenia, but my hard core experience with it began late at 36 years of age. So I actually had a life before this life. Most of the memoirs I've read by people who suffer from schizophrenia start from late childhood to their late teens or early 20s. And most of the memoirs I've read do not cover in depth the history of the authors family of origin, but focus instead on young adulthood and onward. There is no doubt that I was mentally ill during my young adulthood because I stayed at home till I was 27, didn't get a job and had virtually no friends. I also had begun to hear voices, but they were so mild and generally supportive that I didn't take much notice of them. Then I left New York City and moved deep into the country and promptly got involved with a much younger man who suffered from alcohol addiction and mental illnes, hence my initiation into both a subculture of drugs and domestic violence. That in itself could be a memoir.
The more I look at my family and my life, the richer it seems and the more complex. So I see myself working on several writing projects at once, though I will put more focus on my parents' lives since they are in their 80s and won't live forever. I'm hoping to gather some crucial information from them. I've already collected a bunch of audio tapes worth of conversations with them which I will use to reconstruct their lives. I would like to turn some of what I research into well made essays and try to sell them to magazines...but that is getting ahead of myself. I also have some problems with the novel approach to the memoir, especially fabricating dialogue from years past when I have no memory or record of conversations from those times. It just seems misleading to me, despite the fact that it adds interest and color to a story. My approach might be more like collecting multiple essays on particular subjects pertaining to my life. My family is a small one--mother, father, uncle, brother and grandparents and the setting is a wonderful city--New York, my hometown. But it's almost as if I've lived three lives: my life in the City, my life in the country suffering through domestic violence and my life in the country suffering through and recovering from schizophrenia.
Then there is another story I very much want to tell, the story of my last ten years with the voices and how I sincerely believe that the voices ultimately come from an external and yes, alien, source. I rarely write about this firm belief knowing full well that it makes me sound delusional, but I know intimately and torturously what it's like to live inside a delusion and this is no delusion. I also know that I have no proof of this and that the common belief is that there are no such beings. So I have my work cut out for me in trying to convince a generally skeptical audience, which is why I think I've decided to wait till after I write my memoirs of my life in the City and of my family. If, and this is a big if, I write well enough of my life before schizophrenia to garner some credibility as a writer, I might be in a stronger position to present my case. Really if I write any good book I will consider my life a success, but to draw some people to even consider my point of view would ultimately be a crowning achievement for me. And so for now I dream and set aside the next several years to work. Don't get me wrong, I do love painting and am grateful for my small successes with it these last two years and I will continue to paint as well work on songs. For me, this is my idea of a good life: to be creative in any and every way that I'm capable of. To that end I think I'm beginning to succeed in life.