- [preface with: precocity; impress, but obliquely]
"I quit high school just days after turning 16."
- [insert elaborate but nuanced defense for WHY here; hearken back to Wrongs done, paths set upon ME; obscure my stupidity somewhat, with moving allusions; obviate all doubts in dear Reader]
"I moved out that very day, a boy in the morning and a man by nightfall, and spent the next two years working for a drug treatment program, and with runaways, having been a runaway, off and on, since 11. I never once stopped using, though. "
- [drag them through the nobility of this work; work it as counter-type: stress the challenges, include a fetching under-tow of self-deprecation; keep them sympathetic; stay ahead of suspicion etc with artful phrasing]
"I saw my peers get ready for college and got keen on having a real life, so I got my GED -- "
- [casually drop in my insanely high scores (note: check on those, just in case); don't let slip the tenured family connection at the U. -- scotch that: SAY it, bluntly, later his alcoholism will ring like battered brass and link us both in a literary resonation thingy about enabling; hmm: fiddle w/ the ironies (suits the hero's young age); burn him with desires (it roots him as a trope); select/include one of my hard falls, pre-sages sagacity (i like that but don't include it anywhere, too precious)]
" -- and moved into an empty, un- and never-to-be-furnished room near campus..."
- [tell the truth about some lies here, it establishes authorial veracity; capture some "callow" and "sallow" and lonely, in all its boiled hot dog and dry macaroni new coll. student splendor; hmm: insert the first grinding recovery from heartbreak HERE?; introduce a new dangerous desperation, an adult kind; abruptly mention the Dean's List]
"I temporarily leave the University to marry my teenage crush. We find a cottage for two."
- [evoke this, w/ withering details, our 1st enchanted nest, for the urban hovel it was; exploit the dramatic tension between Great (doomed) Love and Low Life. The first signs of insanity go here. The self-cutting. and self-deception. The artistic drug use; the tenderness, the dumb lack; spatter thru-out with poverty; omit the first life-changing insights and the dawning of self-control (accurate, but jinxes the narrative; save for book tour interview, later!!!); keep him dim and struggling]
"We are pregnant and move to the Rockies"
- [this is hard part; fun time is over: my stepfather dies alone, drunk, all organs failed, my wife leaves and goes mad, my baby is gone; I confront future again and get keen on reclaiming it; "admit" to The Bering Sea adventure plans, to get lost up there, abandoning all responsibilities, but then how my baby returns and I wake up; still too soon to crow about "insights" and "maturing", "awakening"?; don't shoot fish/barrel, too obvious; should I drag out the struggle?; hmm, can't add this detail, too un-credible: the night I just grew up, a single father at 20, went out into the yard, poured out my Last Two College Boy Beers, before dawn, the babe finally asleep in my crowded 2-room studio, and me screaming, head first into the deep green grass; people don't change overnight like that in Great Fiction, only in real life, can't use it, have to muffle it, invent something fiction-y; end on a hopeful note here]
"I Move. I move again. She gets out of hospital and gets her father's guns. Even the deposition and the decree and the law don't keep us safe. I flee to northern Rockies, to ______. I am homeless for 5 weeks with my 4 year-old."
- [No way to play this. Try to just write it.]
"Her madness is in my documents, in numbered lines. I have no family in this new place. I am relieved, horribly, that she stays in the hospital, tho it means she must be locked up and dis-associated for us to feel safe.
I fear the very idea of her. Alone at night, my daughter's breathing in the next room, every sound outside is what?, and, deliberately, imagine how I could escape the house if she gets out & shows up, how my reflexes would somehow be faster than hers, if she takes the greyhound up her, the .38 in her denim patchwork bag."
- [this part is impossible; she is sympathetic here even to me, and the Reader will narrow eyes, heed his heart, will say: "well, that's just..." and "why didn't he...", and all the women will want my Character to return, to never have left/to save her/Stand By her; being a father, alone, will seem such a contrivance; reality sucks here/back then/and on every hieratic page; perhaps describe her pinpoint pupils, her psychosis, how long it took to fall out of love with her, even thru all of that? ]
"I move to New York and start again"
- [begin again; Heroic Story; but sheesh, another Horatio from the Great Plains; how do I make success, esp. incremental/modest success, interesting? a let-down after all that other; skip ahead to cancers? low thriving is Dull Work to read; use lots of adjectives? infuse w/comedy?]
"She lingers, stabilizes into a pattern of hospitals and her mother's basement, again and again. When our child is finally grown, she dies. We live."
- [but to document her decline, at a distance, her suicide, while we lift up, new family...perhaps a family saga for which all this earlier/other is mere background, a kind of more-optimistic The Corrections, a multi-generational epic...this is hopeless. Probably no market for memoir anymore anyway, thanks to those Liars and Assholes]
" ... "
- [perhaps I should just invent something?]