Emerging From the Time Machine: Coming back to the present after working on your memoir.

I work on my memoir every Sunday morning, no exception. The time I work on it varies, but my goal is always 1,000 words. Once I get those down, I am free to go. It can take two hours to get those words down, or it can take six hours. Regardless, at the end of that time, I am in always solidly in another decade. I am in Springdale 1984 or 1985 or 1986. And I’ve got to do everything I can to get myself back to here and now, Boston 2013, because this is where my life is now. So, how do I do it? How do I re-emerge (gracefully) from that long ago time into now? How do I come back, blinking in the bright but never harsh light of 2013, smoothly? It depends on the season and time and how far embedded in the past I was, but here are some techniques I use to get me back to now, ASAP:

• A long, hot shower. This works fast and it is soothing, too: I wash the past away and relax into now under a stream of hot water. When I step into the shower, it might be 1984. When I step out, it is solidly 2013, and a big, fluffy, soft towel is waiting for me. Like a time machine in a shower stall!

• Food. This was the very first method I incorporated for getting back to now, back in the early days of working on the memoir. Why? Well, it was sort of a reward. It was late fall when I first began to write deeply into the memoir… and it was always a Sunday. I would often emerge from the writing blinking and bewildered and very hungry. I wanted something that was not simply nourishing, but comforting. Think: butter. Think: warm maple syrup. Think: pancakes so light and fluffy they melt in your mouth. It worked! I’d make the pancakes mindfully. It was a process… the mixing of the batter, the melting of the butter. The tender and patient wait until bubbles formed around the edge of each pancake. And then I’d eat them mindfully, too. Usually, by the time I finished off the plate, I was back here. Now. Grounded and solid and very well fed. I found that French Toast works just as well… slabs of bread soaked in milk and eggs, then fried in butter and seasoned with cinnamon. And, again, maple syrup. Now that it is summer and I’m eating lighter, I make pancakes with yoghurt and berries. Still works like a charm.

• Walks. No matter the season, but especially in spring, walks are the answer to getting from the past to now. It’s great to get out and move! To get out of one’s head and into one’s body with the sights and sound and scents of now all around to experience and bring you back.

What NOT to do:

• Never go on an online blind date directly after working on your memoir. I learned this the hard way. It’s so surreal… you don’t want to do this.

• Don’t attempt to do your taxes. Just, don’t. ‘Nuff said.

• Don’t try to work on a freelance project that is under a tight deadline! I attempted this once… never again. I now make sure I have all of my freelance gigs wrapped up by Friday evening, Saturday afternoon at the latest. I make absolutely sure I clear the decks for Sunday. Nothing on the table except for inter-decade time travel and working on the memoir.

Time travel via memoir writing is not easy – the things we are writing about may not always be pleasant and we are often glad to be past them. The last thing we want is to get stuck in the past! That sounds like a nightmare. It’s good to have tried and true ways to come back to the present.

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4 thoughts on “Emerging From the Time Machine: Coming back to the present after working on your memoir.

  1. I love this! I totally agree…I get lost in the past and it’s hard to get my head back in my life for awhile. Thank you for the helpful tips!

  2. I know the feeling, Lynette. Writing memoir is like a time machine, and it can land us down in some pretty sweet places from the past (in vivid detail).

  3. You’re welcome, Melanie! Yes, it is so hard to come back to current life after writing about the past. I hope the tips help!

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