Writing about events that really happened in your life is a lot harder than I imagined. Wait, no, writing about them is easy. Writing something interesting about them is hard.
For quite a while, I’ve wanted to write a book about my family’s experiences in Kiribati. Back in 1996, my parents packed up the family and plonked us down on a tropical third world island smack bang in the middle of the Pacific. We were meant to be there for two years, but after 7 months, just as we were all finally acclimatising (well, maybe not my brother, who was covered in a permanent heat rash and infected mosquito bites), settling in, making friends and falling in love with the place, my sister Jen got really sick, and we had to come back to Australia so she could be treated and they could figure out what was actually wrong with her. We were only there for seven (or was it six? Must check with Mum on actual dates) months, but a hell of a lot happened during that time.
I think it would make for an interesting read.
As long as I can write it properly. It’s all too easy to start narrating (boring) instead of showing. I’ve caught myself a few times just summarising events and conversations, instead of showing them and playing the situation out.
I’ve been struggling to find my voice, the right voice for this project, but I’m getting there. I’m aware now when I start saying something along the lines of ‘we did this and then we did that then we went here…’ that I need to quickly hit the Backspace button and step closer to the event, make the reader feel like they’re too.
It’s also a bit hard to get back into the mindset of my ten year old self. I do have a diary that I kept while we were there, but damn it’s boring and not very detailed!
(Note to self: Make current journal more interesting for sake of future self.)
This project is definitely a challenge for me, but it’s also fun (and at times frustrating, when I read back on what I’ve just written and realise that I’ve somehow managed to turn something exciting into a yawn fest), and I’m learning and improving. I don’t want to leave this project incomplete too much longer – it’s already been 17 years since we were there. I don’t want to leave it 20 years!