Thursday, March 5, 2020

Memoir writing is not EZ - 001 of 127

At our last writers' group meeting, one of our number handed out a device as an aid in writing memoirs. (Memoirs have been our focus for the past couple months.) The handout consists of a list of 127 questions and is titled, "127 Writing Prompts to Finish Before You Write About Yourself." In looking at the 127 questions two things stand out to me: (1) By writing answers to these questions you ARE writing about yourself, and (2) It's a long, long road from number one to number 127. I've decided to challenge myself to complete the entire list and I'm going to publish them here. I'll first quote the question and follow that up with my written response. So here goes: Number 001 of 127 naval-gazing posts:

1. What is your best physical feature? Why do you like it? Describe it.

To determine which physical feature is my best I would like a bit more detailed definition of best. Best for what purpose? Everyday living? Accomplishing unusual tasks? Attracting a love interest? Further, this question may have been easier to write about many years ago before all of the physical features in question began to deteriorate due to advancing age.

Were I to stand in front of a full-length mirror in my pink and untanned birthday suit I wouldn’t see much that I would like. My body shows the ravages of life: scars from youthful adventures; excess fat from an easy and plentiful life; a couple of reminders of medical procedures. My feet are OK—not badly calloused or distorted from tight shoes. My legs are strong and always have been. I walk a lot and these legs have to carry a heavy load contributing to their strength. On the subject of legs, I’ve been blessed with very little trouble with knees or ankles. Going back to the mirror, though, those legs just look too chunky – too short and heavy to call my best feature. Upper body strength is something I’ve never had. My biceps are not well-defined, my chest is flabby, so let’s not write any more about that portion of my anatomy. Face? No—I’ve often been told I have a great face for radio. My teeth are straight and have been relatively trouble-free, but who wants to write about their teeth? My eyes are blue, and I like that, but my vision is too weak to call the eyes my best feature. Wearing glasses improves my appearance because they hide part of my face! Because I’m writing this for an undefined audience that will likely include mixed company let’s not even consider any more personal bodily real estate.
Having ruled out most everything, where does all of this leave us? What’s left?
Well, let me tell you…

That’s it! I can tell you. The voice! My favorite physical feature is my voice. A speaking voice, not a singing voice. I have always wished I could sing, and everyone who has ever heard me try to sing wishes much the same. But speaking! Oh, I do like my voice and I have received kudos for the sound of that voice and my use of it. It’s not an incredibly deep, bassy voice nor is it overly shrill and high-pitched. When I pay attention I can modulate the sound with good effect, though the range falls far short of the three octaves that were showcased so well by Roy Orbison in his work. In my career, I have, by request, served as the voice for public service announcements, promotional videos, entire instructional courses, and the introduction of Top-40 music hits on the radio (does anyone remember radio?) I’ve also been asked to sit down and shut up at Karaoke events. There is a great difference between speaking and singing!

So, there you have it. My favorite physical feature cannot even be seen in front of that full-length mirror. That’s probably a blessing to all.

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