Alice’s Adventures With Self

Alice04Who would have guessed that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland would be a source of inspiration to modern memoir writers? I can’t recall the last time I read this classic that I often enjoyed  as a girl. A couple of days ago I snagged a free ebook copy and dug in. I noticed many things freshly.

Nobody will be surprised to hear me confirm that Lewis Carroll is a master of metaphor and brilliantly creative. And of course the illustrations delight me even more now than when I was ten.

But those are not the parts I’m referring to. I was struck by the candor and complexity of Alice’s conversations with herself. I didn’t even try to count all the various facets of herself she brought into play via internal dialogues. Note that I said dialogs. It’s not unusual to hear recommendations to include internal monolog in memoir, that is, self-talk. But Carroll takes it one step further and has Alice talking to her selves.

This technique especially fascinated me, because it seems so true to life. I suspect we all do this, that a “core self” interacts with peripheral “others”, but we do it so automatically that it largely escapes our notice. I’m working on tuning in to see how many inner channels I can find. Then I’ll practice writing some “Conversations With My Selves.” I expect that will be both entertaining and enlightening. I’ll keep you posted.

My hunch is that as we start writing these conversations, we’ll become more aware of facets of self we never realized existed. We’ll become more complex and fascinating to ourselves, and including snippets of this dialogue in stories will add both authenticity and sparkle.

Why don’t you pull a copy of Alice off your shelf, out of the library or off the web? Free eBook editions are easy to find, and you’ll surely relish it again yourself. You may get a fresh inspiration while you’re at it.

Write now: write some internal dialogue between two facets of yourself that you are aware of. Since two personas are involved, punctuate it as regular dialogue rather than internal monologue.

5 comments :

SuziCate said...

It has been many years since i've read Alice in Wonderland. Sounds like I"m due for a treat!

kathleen said...

Sharon,

Now you've got me all fired up to read Alice in Wonderland again. It makes sense since writing a memoir often feels like falling down a rabbit hole, over and over again.Thanks for a very intriguing post.Fascinating thoughts!

Sharon Lippincott said...

I hope you both enjoy it as much as I did. How nice that it's a quick read and a long think.

Linda Austin said...

On a bit of a sour note, being aware of internal dialog is revealing of habits/attitudes that need to be changed, such as berating or belittling yourself. Love Lewis Carroll's strange Alice stories. What a genius.

Sharon Lippincott said...

Linda,

I finally managed to "tune in" to one of those conversations of my own last night. I was driving in the dark, on a deadline, in a car with a squealing belt, through a rough part of town and made a wrong turn.

Inner Coward: It's dark. I not sure where I am. What if the car stops? Where should I turn back to Penn Ave? Why hasn't he gotten the car fixed? (Whine, whine ...)

Voice of Reason: CALM DOWN! You know this is no big deal. The car will be fine, and Penn Ave is two blocks to the right at any turn.

Inner Coward: I didn't bring Maya's number. What if I need to call her?

Voice of Reason: Give me a break! You won't need to call her. If you do, call the library and they can look up the number. NOW: BREATHE DEEPLY. Let your shoulders drop.

And so it went. Fortunately the VoR prevailed and I was soon at my destination, safe, sound and a little early. I guess that wasn't an area that needed to be changed. It's a coping mechanism.

Interesting that VoR talks TO me. Alice I B.