172 words – start of my new memoir? Give me feedback!

I think I’ve been afraid for a very long time to be too powerful.  But I’m trying to get over that.  So here’s my second attempt at beginning a new memoir.  I’m also thinking of entering it in a memoir contest.  I’d love you’re feedback.  

After the Second World War, my father and mother lived on the GI Bill while he attended veterinary college and my mother kept house.  It was July 7, 1952, 4:25 a.m., eight minutes before a precise full moon, that I was born.

The next things I’ll share I’d have cringed at in embarrassment most of my life, but something has to explain the crazy life I’ve lived:  It was not only a Full Moon, but a Monday, long ago known as Moon-day, and smack-dab in the middle of Cancer, previously known as Moon Children.  And the eight minutes between my birth and full moon is 2/1000th of a degree, dang close to precise.

Dwight David Eisenhower, my grandfather’s second cousin (or so claims the family), would be nominated to the Republican ticket as candidate for President of the United States later that day.  Our local paper would write a smarmy short column about the coincidence.

At home on the UC Davis campus, the CIA was experimenting with mind control as they had on various campuses for the last five years.  I would live on this campus for the first fourteen months of my life.

(Thank you for your comment!)

6 thoughts on “172 words – start of my new memoir? Give me feedback!

  1. Zarah

    Hi Jean,

    great project! I`ll do some random brainstorming, hope that`s okay.

    You start out with your birth, so I would say in this section you can leave out all the stuff that is unrelated to it. What the paper wrote about the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower (actually I had been wondering whether you were related to him *lol*) isn’t so important if it doesn’t relate to your life and your birth directly. And I think it would be better if you introduced your living situation and your parents’ occupations at a later point. Just describe your birth first, and make it a bit mysterious, so people will want to read more. 😉 Then you can come to the facts of everyday life in the early 50s (situational background), and then the mind control stuff.

    If Dwight D. was a relation, did his election somehow influence your life more than the lives of the average US citizen? Then you should definitely include the mention of his election on the same day as your birth, as a kind of foreshadowing of what is to come. Or was it more the fact that this was the McCarthy era, where conspiracy theories were rampant and everyone seemed to be a suspect or an enemy of the US, that had a greater influence? Then it might be better to picture the general political atmosphere of that time later on.

    You can include stuff in the first pages that you are going to elaborate on later in your book, but you have to pick your foreshadowings carefully. Otherwise your text will be loaded with unnecessary details that make it difficult for readers to get hooked by your narrative. Have a clear idea of where you are going and what is most important for the story. You always know more than your readers do. The art is in knowing what to leave out and what to include. 😉

    How’s this for an opening (just an idea):

    I have often wondered why my life turned out as crazy as it did. Maybe the fact that I was born 8 minutes within an exact full moon had something to do with it. After all, the full moon has always had a reputation to inspire madness – the word “lunacy”bears witness to that.

    Or maybe it was the fact that I spent the first 14 months of my life on the UC Davis Campus, where the CIA was experimenting with mind control …

    BTW, there are 2 new free e-books by WordPress for Writing 101 and 201. Maybe the 201 would be helpful because it’s a lot about revising your drafts, finding your voice and all of these important topics. Here’s the link: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/11/06/two-new-free-ebooks/

    And there`s also lots of helpful articles on Write To Done: http://writetodone.com/about/

    All the best,

    1. Jean Eisenhower

      Hi Zarah,

      Since your questions might be of interest to others, I’ll reply to them here.

      Having Eisenhower’s name has been something I’ve been conscious of to some degree nearly every day of my life, but that’s not why I include it. The real answer is probably the one I am trying to evade answering, asked by Joy below. It’s way too disturbing, the sort of thing that totally turns readers off, so I think I need to build up substantial evidence, little by little, before talking about it. So I include this tidbit here.

      I appreciate your take on an opening, and thanks for the links to the two free ebooks!

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments!

  2. Joy

    HI Jean.

    That was interesting so thanks for sharing.

    How do you think that being born on this day has affected you?


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