Life is Circular (Revisiting your past writing)

My last post (with Doug Elwell) concerned revising your writing. Like Doug, I find it fascinating to go back to pieces written in the past to discover not just how my editorial skills have sharpened in the interim, but also how what I’ve lived through in the intervening time (years, even decades) has changed my perspective on what I had to say.

Doug added this comment, “The key is knowing what it is one wants to say.”

I am in the middle of moving my 95-year-old mother from her home in Sarasota, Florida to an assisted living facility 10 minutes from my home in Madison, Wisconsin. Literally–I am writing this sitting on her front steps, hiding from the blare of her television while I contemplate just what this transplanting means for the both of us.

Sarah and Jean on the beach at Longboat Key.

I am finding out, as Doug put it, what I want to say. I am growing a new, deeper layer of meaning to a small essay I wrote six years ago about watching an elderly neighbor move out of her home. “The Transplanting” appeared on True Stories Well Told in May, 2012.

At the end of that piece, I mused, “This episode is so fresh I don’t know yet what it means to me. This makes it difficult to write a meaningful conclusion. I suspect that in years ahead, I will come back to edit this piece with an eye to creating a stronger closing.”

Well friends, that time has arrived. I’m living an experience that will soon become a new ending to that essay… and the beginning of a new chapter as well–for my mother and for me.

In what ways is your life turning out to be circular? How might you revise the ending-for-now of an earlier memoir essay?

(c) 2018 Sarah White

p.s. If I post less frequently than usual on this blog, please understand–I’ll have my hands full until Jean and I settle into our new relationship.  Your submissions to True Stories Well Told would be truly welcome now! You’ll find guidelines for guest writers here.

About first person productions

My blog "True Stories Well Told" is a place for people who read and write about real life. I’ve been leading life writing groups since 2004. I teach, coach memoir writers 1:1, and help people publish and share their life stories.
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2 Responses to Life is Circular (Revisiting your past writing)

  1. Sarah White says:

    What interests me, when I read “The Transplanting” now vs. in the past, is to see how my point of view has shifted. Then I looked ahead to my own eventual “transplanting.” I never stopped to consider that I would play the daughter role before starring as the transplantee.


  2. Elsa Althen says:

    Sarah, I’ll be thinking of you and your mother as you enter a phase of transplanting together. I “transplanted” my parents in 2001 from Milwaukee to Mt. Horeb. What initially began with a great deal of grief and dread quickly evolved to a happier equilibrium. I suspect, and hope(!), that you and your mom will discover greater peace of mind and happiness being close to each other.


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