I is for me. The first person narrator, which is me. I am I.
Or am I?
Which I am I? The angry teen I? That’s an easy I to slip into. She’s fun to write, though being her was torture. The child I even more confused, but less jaded. A curious I.
Mom I comes easily. Mom I has a lot to say, though she tries not to embarrass. (An impossible task.)
Mostly I am the daughter of dead parents I, trying to make sense of life as an adult.
An adult. I am almost 55, which blows my mind. As the youngest of four, I so often feel like the youngest in a group, regardless of anyone’s actual age. I just found out I am a few months older than a friend’s mother (his mother was 18 when he was born).
I would be a different I if I had given birth the year I graduated from high school. But I might have a lovely son like my friend Kyle.
I am writing a family memoir focusing on my mother and her sister, my gorgeous Aunt Sally. I have been writing it for five years now. Early chapters were written in the first person, as me, the 50ish daughter and niece of two remarkable women. Lately, though, I have been writing more and more in the third person, from the perspective of either my mother or my aunt, at various ages. I am making stuff up, based on stories I know about them. It might not be a memoir anymore.
An imagined memoir. Can I make up a genre? I struggle with terms—I prefer “literary nonficiton” to “creative nonfiction,” but creative nonfiction has become the term most people use. I am not writing a novel, though my work is partly fiction. I suppose I don’t have to pigeonhole my work with terms, but I sigh for an easy answer when people ask what I’m writing.
And I consider excising the I. If I do that, the book will take a very different cast. I think my I anchors the book now, but at times it also intrudes. Is there too much I? Not enough I? Not the right balance of I and she and they and he?
I trundle along, writing when I can. A book of some undetermined description lies at the end of my journey. I must just keep writing at it.
She must keep writing at it.