I’m taking an extended break from a novel I’m working on, to finish the first draft of a memoir. I stopped writing this morning to consider whether “what if” can play a substantive role in surfacing more actual memories. In memoir, a “what if” scenario wouldn’t typically come to mind, that question being fundamental to the fictional stories I create.
My mother died when I was ten, and although I’ve wondered whether I’d be the person I am today had she lived, I haven’t stitched together an imagined, year-by year charting of how my life might have otherwise unfolded. I’m weighing the value of this exercise. Are there cosmic truths embedded in the subconscious that a fictional “what if” rendering might float to the surface? Would piecing together an alternative, fictitious life reveal insightful, true memories that would contribute to the memoir? Or am I simply opening a can of fictional worms? Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference.
For now, I’m just wondering.