Writing Memoir is Like Hard Boiling a Cracked Egg

Writing memoir is like hard boiling a cracked egg.  Contents burble out into the scalding water forming opaque hints of the story concealed within.

The raw sticky interior simmering, congealing, forming itself into perfection.

The difference being, when we try to set the timer for completing the project the winds of life blow out the pilot light, demand we get up to close the windows, or simply remind us it’s time to get shoes for the kids.

We must weather the storm, nurture the pilot light, take care of the job, family, home, then get back to the story. Those moments perhaps already a part of the burbles themselves.

Eventually, we peel away the protective shell to simultaneously discover and reveal the nucleus and embodiment of our experience.

Even without interruption of flow, how long it will take for the story to finish cooking is a mystery and I suspect different for each memoirist, each story.

I am tempted to set a timer and risk disappointment. If I overestimate my ability to write the story to perfection within such a limitation then what would that mean to my fragile identity as a writer? I’d hate to cook my goose by setting unrealistic goals!

It’d be just a guess anyway. 

“Eventually,” I tell myself even though it’s a loaded word from childhood.

I am driven though.  Just ask anyone who knows me well; I’ll get where I’ve aimed the plane, one leg of the trip at a time, despite the freakin’ turbulence.

My personal and career stories are a tapestry woven so tightly I could not unweave them if my life depended on it. I am calling my memoir Flight of a Change Agent – Memoir of a Social Worker as a working title.

My personal life and experiences as a social worker have each affected the other in deep psychological, spiritual, physical, and emotional ways. It is a story I refer to as a long and frequently turbulent flight, with a few difficult layovers. 

I have been writing the chapter in Flight about my brother’s death in 2002. Grief was my kryptonite, personally and professionally.  My personal and professional identities changed overnight. 

This is far from easy writing.  Memories. Reflection.  It’s not just remembering, it’s reliving the emotional rollercoaster. It’s mining for memories and feelings that are loaded with the pain that once brought me to my knees. 

This morning I woke up in August 2002. My brother had just died and I was an exhausted wreck. Physically present here in 2019, I wrote feverishly up to the last minute, grabbed a shower, and woke up the kids instructing them to have cereal for breakfast as I was headed out the door with a banana and crackers in hand headed for an appointment with my therapist then lunch with a long time friend who had been a colleague.

My therapist said, “Bonnie, I can see you are completely raw.” Or words something to that effect, while I raged on about the unfairness of certain decisions that were made during the 13 weeks of my brother’s dying process. 

All the while more memories, more sentences blaring in my head.

While reliving the past and struggling to see my current surroundings from far away, I had forgotten something important about today.  Wednesday, March 20th, 2019. Wednesdays are the one day a week my homeschooled kids go to the brick-n-mortar school for extra-curricular classes (art, speech & debate, games). They are 14 years old. I am their driver. 

Mom got an F today.  Memorist got an A; word count 1,000+!  Kids didn’t really care cuz they got some extra time off to rest after skiing yesterday.

My mind and heart in 2002, my body in 2019. What a strange day, to say the least. 

As always, thank you for visiting! Don’t be shy, I’d love to know you’ve been here.

If you enjoyed this post you might like:

Silver Bird – A Poem about my brother

Quotes of Wisdom 28 Death as a Teacher *Vicarious Trauma & Memoir*

 Featured Image: Images from Pixabay combined and edited


Bonnie A. McKeegan 3.3-02.1.jpeg

*I post on random Fridays at 9am (Pacific Time Zone).*

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4 Replies to “Writing Memoir is Like Hard Boiling a Cracked Egg”

  1. Just read Silver Bird. Reminded me of my childhood. Instead of a plane it was a boat.My Dad was the Captain and I was the First Mate. My mom was afraid of the water..go figure. How have we changed? That will take a lifetime to answer, but for now, the memories have taken me to the depths of my heart and into my Soul. Memories through writing, take us on a journey we would not have known otherwise because we have to express in words how we feel. The words dont even come close, but it opens us to a profound knowing of who we are and who our loved ones were/are. The heart soars just like your Silver Bird, and in the pouring out of long buried emotions, we connect to those that have gone on before us. It is bitter-sweet. Thank you for letting us express. fly, Fly, FLY

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    1. aaah, yes Sue, it is bittersweet, the memories, the reflection… how those early childhood experiences still inform who we are. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to share your reflection on my writing!


    1. Thank you Andrea! I am so much better this week. The intensity of the wave was unexpected but, I did realize I have some feelings about things that are not as resolved as I had believed. So, it’s all good, an opportunity to heal deeper and a learning experience about this process, which is a large part of my writing curiosity. I’ll check out Sherri’s blog. I hope you are having a great day!

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