The Memoirist’s Sister

Regulars to this blog (and to my life) know about Cougar, or Dr. Cougar as she calls herself, and that she is my favorite second oldest sister. (She is also the only one of my sisters who is allowed to read this blog. The others would read too much into it.)

As a memoirist I am in an admirable position, because my parents are dead. This has two benefits: One is that I don’t have to worry what they think and the other is that I can write about my orphaned state. On the third hand, should we be headed more toward octopus territory, my mother would have known a lot of the shit I had to research or wildly conjecture about.

But I still have all these sisters. It took me a year to tell them I was working on the project. Oldest sister was extremely respectful and understanding and offered me a bunch of papers she had. Cougar tells me to hurry up so she can read it and bullies me to write faster. Third sister seems to think I should call it “The Life and Philosophy of Paternal Clause.” Not even kidding. I told her no and stopped talking to her about titles. Other than that, she is interested and supportive.

Cougar is a generous soul. Although I refused to do a something similar to what she does here (long story), she agreed to write me a post about what it is like to be the memoirist’s sister. And I will note that in the past she has pointed out three errors in my first published piece, and a few errors on the blog.

Knowing that you are going to be part of someone else’s memoir is a terrifying thing.  It reminds you of all the fights you had with memoir-writer, and even though you knew you were right, you know she thinks you weren’t.  It brings to mind all the times you spoke for her, in front of her, when she was totally capable of speaking for herself, but you were just louder, and she was just pissed off.  It also makes you wonder if the fact that you remembered something differently from her means that you are on the steep side sliding down, and your recall just isn’t actually that great (any more).

It shook me up for a mili-second when  Indy came up with all those sex stories (some about me) on the blog last week, reminding me that one day, it could all be public.  (“indy, indy”  I pleaded.  “Please DON’T remember that fight we had when Mom was dying.  You know the one.  Where you had to have the last word, and then I had to have the last word, and then you… You’ve forgotten it, right?” [Cougar, I took it out!]).  But you know what?  It’s OK.  What’s done is done, and Indy has to write.  I should have thought about it more at the time I did whatever awful things I did.  Too late now!

We’ve got different last names anyway.  No one’ll know it’s me.

I can’t guarantee how your family or mine will react to your memoir. They probably won’t react like Cougar, because no one is like Cougar, but if you’re lucky, maybe they’ll write you up a nice piece beforehand.

Does your family read your work?

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8 responses to “The Memoirist’s Sister

  1. My parents read my blog. This is generally a good thing, because they’re busy enough for four people and I’m not dutiful enough to remember to call them when I’m pretty sure they aren’t.

    Sometimes it isn’t. Like whenever I mention my sister (who is . . . a bruise I try not to poke too often) or tomorrow, maybe, when I think I’m going to post my reaction to some recent news.

    Otherwise, Mom doesn’t read my fiction, but Dad does. He’s my Boswell, and has saved everything I’ve ever sent him or he’s pulled out of trashcans and smoothed out and filed. It’s disconcerting as hell, but it’s done out of love. I think.

  2. A few family members read my work, but none of the “main characters.” I do, however, post links to every story I publish on my website, and most content is available online so I feel like I’m open about what I put out there. It’s their choice to read it or not.

  3. My family is welcome to read my work, but I don’t think any of them do. I send them my books, and they go oooh and aaah, and then put them down. They mean well.

    Indy did read my latest creative work (It was a 55-word story), and she helped me choose the titles for the chapters of my last book (a text book). Having a poet in the family does help. I’ve got the best titles of any book in the field.

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