Feeling soft this morning, reflective. Ben Okri's memoir, A Way of Being Free (1998), an amazing Nigerian poet and social justice advocate has this to remind and affirm me: 'He acknowledges the painful commitment to the process of writing, and the fact that it could be misunderstood, while reminding the reader of the role of the antagonist. "Remember: it is from the strength of your antagonists that you derive your greatest authority. They make it absolutely necessary for you to be yourself." (15) When the writer most wants to run, Okri's work calls him/her back to the task.'
Another writer I adore is the Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel. I mention him and Okri (both writers of memoir) in these extracts from one of my PhD essays:
‘Wiesel writes in Memoir: All Rivers Run to the Sea (1995), that to tell our stories, even though there are things we may choose to omit, “is to make a commitment, to include a special pact with the reader. It implies a promise, a willingness to reveal all, to hide nothing” (p. 16). In addition to the costs to the writer of being misunderstood, there is the pain and suffering involved in the loneliness and solitude that is required in resurrecting a past, that many, including my own family, would prefer to forget. There are other costs, according to Ben Okri (1998), a Nigerian poet: “the death threats, the enmities incurred by the innocence of the word, the demons of rivalry, the degrading competition which leads the best practitioners, if they submit, away from their beautiful journey” (p. 67). As far as my own traumatic childhood is concerned, remembering and understanding is the key to reconciling the past and engaging with a future that tends to make sense of it all.’