Pretentious? Presumptious? Everyone's had a childhood, right? Why is ours so book-worthy? Allow me to present a short version of the case, in bullet point form:
- There are nine children in my family. (I'm the oldest.)
- My father and mother were religious fundamentalists (well, are, though my mother's lightened up since then - I'm betting the bitter pill of getting an outside-of-religious-law divorce helped) who decided the best solution to the Dangers of the Heathen World was to ensure that we had as little contact as possible with it.
- I was twelve before I met another human being close to my age. Before this, the number of children we'd previously met was four, not counting a couple cousins, who we saw about once a year.
- Until I was twelve, none of us had a life outside our home. We were homeschooled, knew no outsiders, and weren't allowed into the front yard. (No fences to shield us from neighborly eyes.)
- My father developed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder over the course of the years, making our strange situation even stranger. We led a strange, ritualistic life within the four walls of our home - not counting the years we were homeless. One juicy detail: In the last years, our house itself was wired with cameras!
- Everything, of course, went dramatically to shit, in the kind of story that sounds like you'd made it up If It Hadn't Really Happened. (Adding drama: the fact that most of this story takes place smack dab in the middle of Orange County, for an added dose of "It Could Happen Here"!)
- More, uglier details that are a little too unpleasant for this particular blog post, but very dramatic nonetheless.
- And, of course, there's the dramatic story of how we were introduced to The Outside World, and thereafter incorporated ourselves into it.
I won't be writing it alone, though, even if I can form the skeleton of the book. The three oldest of our family were the most affected by it, so we'll write the majority of the book. And the rest of the family might contribute. (Not all of them are old enough to even remember the crazy years; I'm 23, and we're all two years apart - do the math.) We'll see how that goes!
An interesting thought: Since our names all begin with J, that could make an interesting "by" line: "J. Jesson, J. Jesson, and J. Jesson, with contributions by J. Jesson and J. Jesson. Special thanks to: J. Jesson, J. Jesson, J. Jesson, and J. Jesson." Of course, my mother's initials are C. Murphy, which screws the whole thing up, but what can ya do?
My current thorny questions number two:
1. Shall we use our real names? Or pseudonyms? (I plan to use my real name, but I'm not sure about everyone else involved.) If real names, then do we change the names of our brothers and sisters, particularly the ones not writing this or old enough to understand? (Using middle names would screw up the whole "J" theme.) What about - and here's a thorny question - our semi-estranged father?
and 2. What do we call the book?
Perhaps I should read other memoirs - I'm sure others of this kind exist - and see how they handle this...