Tag Archives: secrets

The Motif of Curiosity

An important series in my book is curiosity. In fact, the 230,000+ words I’ve written (yes, I know it needs a lot  of cutting) and the dream of the book itself would not exist without curiosity–namely, my curiosity.

From the time I started reading Bobbsey Twin  books (like Nancy Drew but for younger kids) at age 5, I realized that curiosity was a constant flame inside me. If you aren’t familiar with these old books, the detectives are two sets of twins in one family–Bert and Nan, Freddie and Flossie. This series is so old that I grew up reading the books that belonged to my mother when she was a child.

My Bobbsey Twins collection

As a kid, I practically inhaled all the mystery series books I could get my hands on–mainly from the school and public libraries. Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, the Dana Girls, Judy Bolton, the Khaki Girls.  On and on.

In my early twenties I read every single Agatha Christie mystery.

Today I still enjoy mysteries, but I also am working on genealogy and my family history blog. The great thing about genealogy is that when the past gives up some of its secrets, it presents the genealogist with many more! The genealogy bloggers I’ve met are incredibly curious people.

All of this has been preparing me for writing my memoir, of course. Only I didn’t know it until recently.

When faced with secrets and unknowns, my recourse is to–well, what else?–PRY.

Are you a curious person? How has your curious or incurious nature affected your life?

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Filed under Books, Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Memoir writing theory, Nonfiction, Research and prep for writing, Writing, Writing goals

The Central Series: The Motif of Secrets

According to the book architecture method, after determining all the series (repetitions) in her book, the writer must decide which is her central series–the main storyline will rest on this series.

My central series is secrets. A secret can be a painful wound at the heart of a family. What happens to a secret that doesn’t get any air? It festers and infects the entire body of the family.

The other side of the coin from secrecy is privacy. Aren’t people entitled to their privacy?

In my story, the protagonist (me, of course) tries to exhume the family secrets, but is also desperate to hang onto her own privacy with the family. Sounds sort of hypocritical ;).

Photo by Marisha

To give myself inspiration on the topic of secrets, I searched for quotes. These spoke to me as meaningful for my story:

“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”
― George Orwell, 1984

Of course, it is impossible to hide a secret, once known, from oneself. The more I realize it’s a secret, the more it weighs on my mind. Therefore, one way or another, the secret will out itself.

“Secrets, silent, stony sit in the dark palaces of both our hearts: secrets weary of their tyranny: tyrants willing to be dethroned.”
― James Joyce, Ulysses

I envision secrets just this way–heavy and controlling with their silent power. They want to be kicked out of their thrones, uncrowned, but we let them tyrannize us and those close to us.

“You cannot let your parents anywhere near your real humiliations.”
― Alice Munro, Open Secrets

I learned early to protect myself from my family by developing a thick wall. That was my way of secret-keeping.

“Secrets have a way of making themselves felt, even before you know there’s a secret.”
― Jean Ferris, Once Upon a Marigold

Although this quote doesn’t come from a weighty tome as do the other quotes, it is so fitting for my story. From before my birth the secrets existed, so I grew up under the weight, the tyranny, of the secrets long before I finally realized they existed.

Have you written about secrets in your family?

P.S. Those of you who were commiserating with me about my old cat Mac who has a bad heart and was diagnosed with diabetes: I got his glucose down with a diet change. So he doesn’t need insulin for now!

If you have cats, think about switching to high quality canned food. I did hours and hours of research and now wish I had done so years ago. If you want to know more about the results of my research, email me at writersite.wordpress[@]gmail[dot]com.

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Filed under Books, Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Memoir writing theory, Nonfiction, Research and prep for writing, Writing, Writing goals