I may have been born to write, but if so, I took the long way around. Perhaps if I had been raised in a different environment I would have done better, earlier, but I donít like playing the íwhat if?í question. I might have been in the World Trade Center building on 9/11 signing a big contract if things had been different and now Iíd be dead. See? You have to take it as it comes. The only good looking back can do is keep you from making the same mistake twice. I canít even say I managed that much. What I did do is to finally become a writer, something I had wanted to do from a very early age. The fact that this autobiography is even being published is proof that I didnít do all that bad.
A writerís memoirs are something very personal and yet, rather ironically, they are put out there for the world to see. My own memoirs started when I began getting requests from fans for more information about me and my writing.
Originally, I intended to produce a biography of no great length, but as I began writing, old memories, many buried since childhood, were stirred and came to the surface. Before I quite knew what was happening, the "biography" turned into a full length memoir, written in installments and published on my website, www.darrellbain.com
Eventually, one of my publishers asked about turning the memoirs into an e-book. I agreed, with the provision that they would be greatly expanded. Why? Well, as I was writing about my life, more and more things came to mind that I had overlooked in the time period covered by previous installments. These couldnít be conveniently incorporated into the memoirs as they were then written, and consequently got left out completely. Also, as I was writing, my wife Betty and I became involved in a major project, re-modeling the office.
Doing an office over doesnít sound like much work, but bear in mind that our office was originally a two-car garage and youíll get an idea of what we went through. I wonít regale you with details but I will reveal a major happening while this went on. We discovered a lot of old papers and manuscripts which we thought had been lost years and years ago. These included some stories I had written, some of which I was able to use after extensive editing. They were published at www.fictionwise.com and www.double-dragon-ebooks.com under the title A Steel Trap Mind and Other Vignettes.
We also found a number of manuscripts and letters Betty had handwritten. Some were from the time we lived in Saudi Arabia, shortly after we were married, and others were from a later period when she was working as a Home Health Nurse. These were also published - under her name, of course, Betty Bain - at the same electronic book stores where my own work appears regularly, www.fictionwise.com and www.double-dragon-ebooks.com
And lastly, I found a hundred-page diary I wrote while in Saudi Arabia, as well as bundles and bundles of letters I had written to my mother and stepfather, some from as far back as the late 50s, but most from around 1980 when we moved out to "The Farm" and built our home, continuing until the early 90s. The letters revived many other memories. Some of this material will be included in this expanded edition of my original memoirs.
Thereís only one way to go about this now, and thatís to start from the first original installment and begin the revisions and additional material, both from revived memories and from the old letters and diary.
I must say that the experience of writing memoirs is something I can recommend to anyone capable of typing or holding a pencil, if for no other reason than that future generations will enjoy them. One of my granddaughters followed the original installments of my memoirs avidly, always nudging me to hurry and do the next one. My stepchildren learned a lot about me. Not that I had tried to be secretive, but some things simply hadnít come up in the course of conversations and visits. And of course my own two sons learned a lot about their dad they hadnít known. Some of it isnít very complimentary but other parts show my better side, I believe. In fact, the whole story of my life, as is true for most other people, is a mix of the good, the indifferent and the bad, with all of them going into helping a person grow and change, and hopefully, improve their life and attitudes.
For me, there were two really defining moments in my life. One occurred when I was 13 years old and involved what is almost certainly the bravest thing I ever did. The other is when I met my present wife, Betty. Youíll read about both of these events in the course of these memoirs, as well as many other events, some quite common but others much different from middle class American life as we know it today.
And finally, just as my fans and readers requested, Iíll relate the events and parts of my life that shaped me into the writer I am today. Every writer takes a different path toward the goal of becoming a published author. I certainly did. Whether Iíve made much of a success of it or not is for the readers themselves to judge. I just write; I donít try to figure out why any more than most writers do. We write because something within us compels us to put words on paper and hope theyíre published.
Writing is a peculiar profession. Part of what makes it that way is that the supply of written material is way, way more than the demand for it. Inevitably, that leaves many writers either unpublished or forced to publish their own work at their own expense. "Vanity publishing," as itís called. Iíve done some of that but eventually my work began to sell on its own merits. Perhaps because I persisted. Most successful authors say that the only way to become an accomplished author is to write. And write. And write...
I hope readers will find at least parts of these memoirs interesting. The South, in the 50s through the 70s, along with my time in the military, and my final marriage to my wife Betty, were particularly formative periods of my life. Thereís some good and some bad. I donít promise to completely bare my soul, but what I do write will be as true as memory serves.
Sidebar on memory: As psychologists and scientists delve deeper and deeper into our brains and minds and discover more and more about the way we process information, some interesting facts have come to light. Our memories arenít nearly as accurate as we think they are. Our brains are wired to "fill in" what it thinks should be in our memories, much as we "fill in" words when reading by seeing what we think should be there. Iím sure youíve heard of how unreliable eyewitness accounts are. Thatís because our minds donít work the way we think they do. We constantly revise and edit our memories. Iíve listened to some people I know describe events in ways that are pretty far removed from the way I remember them, yet I saw no evidence of deliberate deception on their part. It was simply that they "remembered" the event differently than I did. People will fill in facts and figures when they arenít certain; they will add or subtract colors and words and clothing and myriad other items when relating their descriptions of events or people.
All this is my way of saying that my memories may not be exact. I shall do my best to be as accurate as I can, but memories from childhood, especially young childhood, are apt to vary from the literal truth. Also, memories from our very youngest days are badly fragmented, like a film a mad editor has cut to pieces, leaving more blanks than clips, then tossed into the air and mixed and randomized. And as we get into our later years, say from ten years old and up, our memories are still just fragments of all that has taken place in our lives. What we best remember are those events with emotional overtones-but they are also the memories most likely to be distorted.
One more caveat: our memories from when we were very young are not only badly fragmented, but we probably remember things in no particular order. Children arenít nearly so aware of time, in a linear fashion, like we are as adults.
Now, having explained my reservations, and rambled along explaining what I hope to accomplish here, I guess we can get on with the stories, which is what our memories are; a series of stories which make up our lives.