Memoirists may be wary of putting their truth on the page. They may be concerned others will judge them. Or, they may feel guilt about revealing the harmful (or deceitful, immoral, or criminal) behaviors of someone close to them. They may even fear retribution from such a person. By working with a fictional character we can explore and test run various ways of drawing out memories and writing memoir.
Georgina McClure, who is now retired and living quietly in a remote rural setting, lived and worked in the Circus World all her life. She was raised by an aunt, who preceded her as the Popess, after her mother, a famous sword swallower, affectionately known as the ‘Human Volcano’, died during a performance.
Georgie explained that there were many factors which contributed to the demise of the circus. Increased railroad costs, costly court battles with animal rights activists, which saw the end of the elephant acts, were just some of the things that killed the Circus as she had known it. “People didn’t want to see a show without elephants” she explains and “in an era of Pokemon Go, online role playing games and YouTube celebrities, the “Greatest Show on Earth” suddenly didn’t seem so great”.
Georgie, who retired as the Circus she had spent her life working in folded, met me in her home and agreed to talk about her future and test run some of my quirky ideas about writing memoir.