Memoir and My Fuzzy Memory

Year eleven, German Verse Speaking Competition … gaps, Swiss cheese recall. I sought ways to reconcile the short fall in my memory. Accepting my cultural heritage had become another pillar in my recovery from anorexia. I’d fragmented myself. But realised that I had choice and in an adolescent way, with my half-formed brain, began to glue the fragments together.

But the question remained, how did one stimulate the fuzzy memory?

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I tried to go round the problem and rationalised it. It’s my story, memoir is based on what I could remember of the events at the time. Time and memory both distort truth. What is truth anyway? It’s subjective to a degree. We all see the world through our eyes. Those perceptions can be varied. It helped a bit like a salve on a sore.

Then I tried reason, you know logic. I figured my low nutritional status would have affected my brain. Here’s the clinical evidence on cognitive effects In short, intellect, judgement and mental health suffer. Maybe chronic stress played a part, I mean obsessing about calories, marks and school life must have had an impact

But the patchy recall persisted and I wanted to flesh out this piece of writing. I’d tried the normal memory jogging tools; photos, friends, diaries to no avail. Time to get creative. I came up with this list of ideas:

  • Recall the key points and write them down, then take a long walk and let your mind unravel the details.
  • Tap into any feelings you have around the situation. Explore them and see what comes to mind.
  • Flick through images of the eras you are writing about e.g. 1975. Get lost in there and see if it unearths anything of use. Pinterest is a great time waster here.
  • Focus on the setting, furniture, colours, weather …
  • Who else was there?
  • Keep walking. It will empty your head of collateral junk and clear the chest of anxiety.
  • Talk to your character, see what they have to say. Let’s face it they are real and have an opinion.
  • Quirky is good. Capitalise on any eccentric character traits that emerge.
  • Open a blank word doc and write a series of thoughts down. Print it and attack it a pen and highlighter. Then write and braid and delete and have fun!

Kindly share any ideas that you have for jogging a fuzzy memory.

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