Based on some of the feedback I got in response to my last post–which I opted not to show in the comments–and some second thoughts of my own, I’m rethinking the holiday happenstance issue because of an important component I overlooked: comic relief. And, since I consider myself something of a humorist, the failing hits me pretty hard.
Some memoirs deal with multiple life traumas, and a recitation of these difficult times can take a toll on readers. In such cases, relating an occasional light moment is not only appropriate, it makes great sense. Good storytelling provides both high and low points, moments of tension and moments of levity, touches of sadness and touches of joy.
Humor can provide a change in tempo as well. More often than not, life issues build slowly over time until they reach a point where they can no longer be ignored. We’re all guilty of this to one extent or another. A smile at the right moment can make those difficult moments more bearable, at least in the retelling of them.
Finding ways to sneak these giggle packets into a memoir can be tricky, but it’s certainly not impossible. Be creative. Take advantage of your photo editor. With only a modest degree of effort, you can transform photos with a bit of text, add elements you wish were in the original or delete those that actually were. We’ll discuss such techniques in a separate post (probably several). For now, recognizing the sorts of things you’d like to change will have to do. Actually doing them will depend on how much effort you’re willing to expend and how much imagination you have.
Sometimes just telling the story is enough. Christmas may not have been all that great after you moved to a smaller house, but watching Uncle Flapdoodle trip over the dog and spill his bourbon-laced eggnog on teetotaling Aunt Treacle just about made the downsizing worthwhile. And while you’re at it, you could add a photo of Uncle F on the job as Santa at Gumpert’s department store. Some things are just too good not to share.
Happy holidays, y’all. I hope the New Year delivers for you as I know it will for me.