While writing creative nonfiction, students will say to me, “I don’t remember the details.”
We creative nonfiction writers are sometimes under the assumption that we have to remember everything in Technicolor sharpness in order to write about it. Details are great, and when we can remember specific moments and scenes, it adds so much to the work.
But if there’s something you just aren’t remembering, don’t sweat it. You can actually turn what seems like a flaw into something that can work powerfully for you.
What I recommend is to mine the reasons why you DON’T remember. If you are talking about a major event in your life and you hardly remember anything, that’s a story. What are some reasons why you don’t remember the details? Why do you think your mind is blocking it out?
Explore these reasons on the page through a free-writing session. See what comes of it. There’s no reason why in an essay or in a section of memoir you cannot say right on the page, “Here’s this thing that happened. I remember so little of it, and here are some reasons why.”
Let me know if it works!