My current obsession is the project I’m working on about my mother’s Alzheimer’s. It’s a mixture of memoir (which seems a funny word for writing about something that is ongoing, but I don’t know of a better) and biography. I have no idea if it will work. But I persist.
It’s such a mixture of past and present. I’m always struggling to decide what to include – how much of me in the present, for example. Are my feelings universal or am I just a bad daughter? Who should I protect and to what extent? Which details will interest readers and which only interest me?
The best part of the project is that I can switch between past and present – or recent past, anyway. When it becomes too painful to write about my mother’s ongoing deterioration I turn to a chapter about the more distant past. When piecing together my parents’ early years starts to drive me crazy I put that aside for a while and return to the present.
The chapter I’ve just finished covers from 1943 to 1953, which were the first ten years of my parents’ marriage, and include my birth. Now I’ve begun work on the next ten years. I wonder if they’ll be easier because I remember those years – or most of them anyway. Maybe not. I’ll soon find out.