Weekly challenge: Discarding the black jellybeans

Writing Challenge
Memoir Madness
In this week’s writing challenge, mine your memory and write a memoir.



Memories fall into three categories, it seems to me: the good, the bad and the ugly… You know the ones I mean: the evil, sniggering little bastards that lie in wait to ambush you with rotten eggs when you wake in the night, replaying every cringe-worthy moment of your life in glorious technicoloured 3D, with added sound effects and soul-shattering mood music. I can cope with the good and the bad, but it seems monumentally unfair that the raucous laughter of those present when I dropped the hot-lunch tray and stepped on a pie in primary school, should still bounce off the walls of my dark bedroom sixty years later. Particularly when I know for a fact that she who laughed loudest has been dead and gone for 55 of those years.

So I’m thinking of embarking on a course of selective memory loss. There are pitfalls, of course: can I ever be 100% certain that the pie fiasco won’t be useful one day? Or that visions of self with egg on face and feet in mouth won’t be essential fodder for write what you know? And am I prepared to take that risk?

It would be much easier, of course, if I could swallow the lot holus bolus and see it as all part of the rich tapestry that is me. But that presupposes that I see myself as a rich tapestry, which is laughable. More of an old sock, really. There are certainly some niftily artistic darns, but also a lot of unsightly cobbles executed in haste to keep the thing hanging together. Why fill it with memories I’d rather discard, and risk it falling apart?

My son points out from time to time that in order to write something worthwhile, I need to mine the rich vein of mental rubble laid down by trauma, disaster, blood, tears and mayhem. But I say, if that’s what it takes, I’d rather stick to writing worthless fluff.


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18 Responses to Weekly challenge: Discarding the black jellybeans

  1. elainecanham says:

    We are all just lost socks in the launderette of life, Helen. Or perhaps forgotten teaspoons in the washing up bowls of history. Or (stop, ed) ….. Oh those awful memories that you get at 3am….and then later they don’t seem so bad. But they come back. What to do???

  2. Oh Helen I feel for you, I don’t ever wake up with ugly memories but they do sometimes assault me at odd moments. I think you have to laugh at them, and you never know you might make the rest of us laugh too.

  3. I do know those memories. The wee early hour jobs. They get you when you are most vulnerable and can make the adrenaline rush. As with a train wreck, you cannot avert your eyes and the scene is replayed over and over.

    Why is it, I wonder, that the happy moments don’t pop up at 3 in the morning?

    • Some would say it’s delinquent spirits taking advantage of our vulnerability to play out their own earthly mistakes. Seems a pretty random method, to me, more likely to detract Brownie points than acquire any. But what would I know? I’m not there, yet!

  4. Totally get this. As you know x

  5. Yeah, how come it’s the bad thoughts, not the glorious ones that pop up at 3am? Must have something to do with the brain and its state during the sleep cycle.

    Whether you write from the bowels of your dark soul or the fluff of your nose hairs, just as long as you write. I am telling myself this too because I have not been able to contribute much lately.

    Thank you for sharing this!

  6. Save all those black jelly beans for me – my favorite right after red.

  7. Fran Macilvey says:

    I used to do that, too. Just at the point of falling asleep, something from forty years ago would make me cringe……Until I realised that I was remaking that stuff, every time. Why bother? Just swamp all those thoughts in lovely colourful love and let them go. Bless you! xxx 😀

  8. ChristineR says:

    ❤ I love black jelly beans, my favourites, but I'd rather leave behind those stupid things I've done back in the past. I bring them out to rake myself over them, now and then.

  9. Pingback: I Remember the Falling Rain | Ramisa the Authoress

  10. Pingback: Court fixing up the past | litadoolan

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