Memories are powerful stories we tell ourselves of what happened to us in our past. Everyone will remember in their own way and sometimes details get mixed up. When a sketch artist asks someone to describe a person they only get to see for a few seconds they might remember the nose but forgot the mustache. It doesn’t matter. What matter is the fact that nose was rather important to remember for the person. Maybe the nose was tiny, too tiny for such a large head. Or maybe the nose had hair hanging out of the nostrils covered in snot. Who knows why that nose was important and caught the memory nerves in the person’s brain but it was there.
Writers are often taught, “Write what you know, write your life but better, write what you lived….” And so often times we do. What that really is saying is you have to feel authentic in your writing for a reader to feel that authenticity while reading it.
When we write the memories and share them with others they will often say, “That’s not what happened.” But it doesn’t matter who is right about the past, it’s in your head the way you see it so write it that way. Sometimes we will get nervous to share our stories because they are based on memories that we had and we don’t want to offend family members, or even friends from back then. Even if we change names we are certain the person will be offended that you were so open with the world about your experiences with them. Once an experience has past it has become a story. You can decide to share with the world your thoughts on it or not. Let go of what the others think for they might not even remember it.
What is fascinating is when you start off writing memories of your past for your story but then all of a sudden your character has become real to you. The memories might still be in the story but now it is not your story anymore. The Character might not speak directly to you in your head but you feel a connection to the character. You start to realize that you can now add to the story different experiences that you didn’t experience but you know your character has. It is all due to fact that you can feel the character with you, sharing some how some way their story that they want you to write for them. Hard to explain but I am trying. An example is changing a character’s name. I realized the name I had for many years for my main character for my first manuscript was not that at all but a whole other name. That new name stayed in my head for a long time. When I realized that was the actual name of the character I still had moments of nerves about if that was true. When I did switched it my body felt relaxed and had a yes sensation. And after writing with the new name I realized the original name I was using was still important for the character but it was her middle name.
Some people who see the story will only see you and think all of those memories are just yours. As a writer, or as an artist you see a rainbow. You see the memories as clouds passing thru with a little rain for awhile just so the rainbow can emerge.