Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Side Show to the Big Show (Or My Life is a Circus)

I just got back from our local Civil War Round Table meeting. Yes, I am a dork like that. Other than covering some business, on meeting's agenda was a book discussion about Sam Watkins's "Co. Aytch First Tennessee Regiment (Or a Side Show to the Big Show)". The discussion went well; most attendees participated. For the most part, everyone agreed that Sam could not have remembered that clearly twenty years after the fact and that, because of the nature of the initial publication, Sam took several liberties in his storytelling. It is a good piece that eloquently describes a soldier's experiences of the Civil War, but it isn't the most accurate of tales.

On point I found interesting, though, was brought up briefly and then left alone. Sam wrote the book after he knew the ending. He knew how the war would end, what side would claim victory and that he would live, that he would grow old with his family.

If I wrote an autobiographical novel today, what would my story look like right now? I don't consider my life a "side show to the big show" as Sam did. Sometimes I feel like my life is a circus, but that's beside the point... I don't know how things end, so what details would I flourish or leave out? How different would two stories of my life, both written by me, be if I wrote one now and one in twenty years? Not that I can remember what I had for breakfast, but I know that as events from my past fade in my memory with time, what seemed important then is not so much now. And for that matter, things that I didn't even take notice of at the time have made huge impacts on my life.

Just a few before-bed ramblings.