There is a Stephen King quote which begins, “Writers remember everything.” (It’s a beautiful passage. I’ll quote it in full below). It’s certainly true for me. The realization fills me with a certain joy and peace…. oh, so that’s what that is for.Finally I see the value of remembering the story behind every scar.
When I was little, a lot of things happened that hurt and terrified me. I have very vivid memories of them. One thing I always remember telling myself was that I had to be sure to remember, especially after something bad. It was the mantra I used to calm myself down and stop crying. I’m talking at 5, 6 years old here. I didn’t realize that was weird until I grew up and learned that most people remember childhood with a hazy glow. I remember it with dates and photographic recall of scenes. When I reminisce with my mother about something that happened 40 years ago and which we haven’t discussed since she often says, “You can’t possibly remember that.” But I do.
It felt like a kind of witnessing at the time. Often I thought I was cataloging wrongs for the purposes of revenge. It was only much later that I realized I was storing hurts for future transmutation. And I don’t remember everything, of course. Just the stories behind the scars. Because, I guess, they’re the things that make the most difference when you tell them.
There’s a peace dawning with the realization. I’ve been carrying all these things for a reason. I put them down in small bundles: an essay here, a chapter there. And I feel lighter every day.
Here’s the Stephen King quote:
“Writers remember everything…especially the hurts. Strip a writer to the buff, point to the scars, and he’ll tell you the story of each small one. From the big ones you get novels. A little talent is a nice thing to have if you want to be a writer, but the only real requirement is the ability to remember the story of every scar.
Art consists of the persistence of memory.”