When I write I don't think about anything else aside from where my story is going. Where will it take me? Do I like where it's going? Does it like where I'm taking it?
It's not until much later and many edited drafts past the original that I think about reading it aloud. Last, night I read two pieces I'd never read aloud before. "La Trenza" which I'm excited is about to be published in the latest edition of Cream City Review and "Dimming Lights" which is a small heavy piece I used to divide my memoir into sections of before and after my grandmother Ita's, death.
Last night, I read them in front of an author who I read when first figuring out how to write my own work, Rigoberto González. I read his memoir Butterfly Boy: Memoirs of a Chicano Butterfly amongst others when I was still undecided on what shape my book was going to take. It was interesting because I felt as if I knew him, already had a relationship with him, and I wanted to say, "Do you remember when you told me about your mother? I thought about you when I was writing this part of the story." But, I realized he couldn't have remembered because I had a relationship with his book, not him.
What an interesting concept, for him, and I'm now realizing for myself as well. The stories we choose to share on paper make tiny relationships with our readers. Every reader develops a relationship with a book they love, but with a memoir, the stories are true. The stories happened to the author and instead of going through getting to know them, slowly as you would a friend, the formalities are skipped. Instantly, the reader is in the inner circle of thoughts and stories.
As Rigoberto began his reading, there was a moment when he said, "With memoir you're lucky to have started so young. I got started when I was older and had to rely on my memory for many things." A knot formed in my throat. I felt as if he was speaking directly to me as I stared back at his thoughtful dark eyes. I wanted to tell him, but I still missed chances, she had to die before I realized I should try to be "in the moment" with my family, my friends, the people who make up the pieces of not only my heart, but my stories. But, I didn't. I sat quietly contemplating his words as he began to read about his father.
I heard a difference in his voice from the one I'd imagined when reading Butterfly Boy. He sounded older, the words wiser somehow, or perhaps it's because of the other stories he'd told me when I read his book late at night under the covers, that I heard the tinge of nostalgia which wasn't there before.
I wonder now, how people who have read my work feel. Do they feel the same way?
And, how many people have unknown relationships with Rigoberto, who's written several memoirs, I wonder?