Monday, July 19, 2010

Trigger or Jogging Your Memory

I hadn't thought of this before - but it came up in discussion today.

In about a month I will be taking a writing road trip. I'm excited by the trip because I think it's just what's needed to help get me moving along on the memoir I've been writing for a while. I've taken little breaks from it here and there - blocked or stumped or unable to make any progress. And that's okay (how often have I said or written that little phrase? A gentle reminder to myself to not beat myself mentally up for taking a break from an overwhelming project or missing my target time on an event by a minute or things like that).

So I will be taking a road trip to jog my memory. Some parts of the trip to this place I have forgotten. Forgotten or blocked - yes, it could be either. I remember enough key elements to know the route we drove. I know where we started and where we ended and why we went. But to make the story work and make it readable and not put everyone to sleep or stop the tale in its tracks - I need more visuals. I need to be able to visualize what I no longer can in order to be able to write about it.

So I was talking with my writing buddy about this and we decided it would be useful and fun to take a road trip. You see, she has a destination, too, for her memoir. So we go to my 'special place' and we go to her 'special place' and we will be able to fill in the details and bring the pieces together.


But, today, something came up in therapy and I thought - huh. I didn't consider that an option. See, I think of this as a writing trip - a fact finding mission so I can write this part of my story. My significant other wanted to go along and was surprised that I didn't ask her - she was thinking of this as an emotional memory lane trip and that I was taking this other person as support and not her. Not true.

No, I said. It's fact finding for writing. That's all. It will not be emotional; I'm long over that.

But the question remains: will I simply be jogging my memory or will I be triggered? And if there is triggering potential, will the likelihood be increased if my life partner is along, who already knows the story and was a witness to some of it?

Questions. I'm still excited that the opportunity to make the 20-hour round-trip drive presented itself. Now I need to think about what I need and the possible outcomes. I'm calling it a "road trip" - but it's ten hours each way, with one day in between, just enough time to find a couple of places, take a few pictures, sleep and head back home. Looking for a sense of place of a time long ago and a city I haven't visited for 30 years and don't intend to visit after this trip.