Monday, February 09, 2009

"I dunno. I disremembered."

As mentioned in a previous blog [see: When Characters Write Your Book 1/21/09], my fictional characters have a habit of writing much of my work for me. This morning I want to talk about such an incident.

Fifty years ago, while working on a short story for the writers' group I attended, one of my characters said something perfectly suited to the situation using a word I'd never heard before. When asked about an unpleasant episode from his past the boy said, "I dunno. I disremembered."

OK, I might have invented it but for me it was one of those perfect bits of language that dropped into my mind from the ether when only that single concept would convey what was needed. It would not have been enough for him to say he forgot. Forgetting happens to everyone and some things, as with what had happened to this boy are impossible to forget. This boy had managed to "disremember."

Guess I sold that story 'cause I just Googled and discovered that "disremembered" has found its way into a dictionary. However, it's presence in at least the Urban Dictionary does not surprise me since my little story was written in LA and we all know how information spreads from there. I remember inventing jokes while bartending in Hollywood and having them told to me as "new" in Arkansas twenty years later. I must have sold the boy's story and forgotten.

BUT! The dictionaries have it wrong when they say "disremember" and "disremembered" mean the same as "forget" and "forgot". Both "forget" and "forgot" are passive verbs meaning something lost at least temporarily. "Disremember" is an active verb that means "to forget": the deliberate act of putting something out of mind.

How many times have you tried to do that only to discover that the more you tried the more deeply rooted the memory became. And, the more it grew!


  1. Anonymous9:10 AM

    It's the Law of Attraction. Focus on what you don't want and you'll keep getting more of it.

  2. Anonymous9:14 AM

    I accept my memories for what they are; they help me work on myself. And I know very well I need the work. ~Mary

  3. I've dream up novel phrases and expressions for my songs and comedy; “politically uncorrect” is phrase I used for inherent irony, - only to discovery its all over the place, it’s even a TV show. It’s like coming up with a unique name for a band, or a user name, I once submitted the name ‘scary baboon’ – someone else was using it! It’s quite frightening, and so hard to be uniquely creative.
    For me, un-correct like dis-remember carried some notion of intent.


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