A parlor game we play in my circle is What’s the Title of Your Autobiography?
My husband: It’s a Steve Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand.
My friend Jon: Can We Stop Here First? The J.D. Story.
My father thought his memoir should be called The Man Who Couldn’t [Dance the] Hambo, because he thought that was both informative and surprising to people who knew his dancing ability. (Myself, I’ve never danced the hambo and my credulity is not at all strained, but that’s family for you.)
One of mine: Basically, Life Is Meaningless, I Am Not a Person. This alternates with I Need… More of Something and Less of Something else. (Both of these are quotations that have taken on a life of their own over the years, and I didn’t even say the first one, so please don’t worry.)
Currently, I’m thinking about Pants Optional: The Middle of My Life
This is relevant in so many ways:
- I’m planning to perform a burlesque show on my 50th birthday and my first stage performance* involved a striptease.
- I work at home, and like many an online entrepreneur, being able to dress down, at least below the waist where the video camera can’t see, is one of the privileges I enjoy.
- Around my house, I’m a bit of a nudist.
- When we moved into my our house I suggested to my husband that we have a “no shoes in the house” rule. He countered with the suggested we have a pants-free household. The conversation ended.
Taking the metaphor to a deeper place, I’d say it has to do with vulnerability and exposure. I strive to share my flaws and mistakes without shame in the world, even when my pants fall down unexpectedly. It doesn’t happen very often in the literal world, but I strive be someone who can survive being pantsed without hiding.
Finding your own book can be tremendously clarifying. Think about what the title you’d pull down from a shelf and plunge into, eager to uncover the mysteries. Think about what you want people to say about you at your funeral, if that’s not too grim.
Think about your legacy, your in-jokes, the details of life that matter to you more than to any other person.
And don’t forget to write the actual book…
*I usually use this opportunity to drop my performance in an early work by a famous prize-winning playwright into the conversation, but I’d kinda like to forget how little I knew about acting at age 23.
Composition note: If I never had a conversation, I’d never be able to write. My dear friend Lisa nudged me in this direction during a videocall, mostly by laughing at the title Pants Optional.
What should the title of your autobiography be? Post in the comments below. In the meantime, if you want to write about yourself and you’re struggling, I’d love to invite you to join A Writing Circle for Healing, which meets monthly in Seattle — or online, if you’re far away.