For most of the writers I know, memory is fierce, strong and indelible. I'm a really happy person in my life, and my husband and son are fabulously sweet and silly, but I gravitate to writing about dark or serious issues. I love drama! My agent always tells me she loves reading about pain! (My son's in a drama company and the producer asked me, "why does such a happy person write such dark books?" Well, I think the answer is that is WHY I can be such a happy person!) Anyway, I can catapult myself back to events in my past for nonfiction, and sometimes it isn't always so much fun. I have been known to weep at the keyboard, or get tense and feel threatened. I remember in detail every word someone said to me years ago and what I felt.
Last year, at a reading in NYC, I was reading about my one real job, where I was told that because I was a novelist, I would probably be blamed for all errors since everyone would know I was thinking about myself rather than videos. The same job turned out to be a nightmare when I miscarried a child before we had Max. Anyway, as I was reading, I forgot the audience, and for a moment, I was there again, standing in my boss's office, angry and stunned and sick. People in the audience told me later that there were sparks coming off that reading. "What an actress!' someone told me, but the thing was, I wasn't acting. (I am a terrible actress, as evidenced by my stint in my high school drama club!) I was simply there. In that moment. Reliving that past.
Writing about the past is a way for me to make sense of it. To give it shape. To hopefully make it into art. And sometimes just to let it go.