I began the journey of writing my memoir in 2006. I thought I was prepared. Writing novels was the focus of my life for years. A memoir is shorter than a novel. The pause to write it would only be a year of my life – tops… What’s the big deal? It’s not like I didn’t know the story.
I was so wrong.
I was confident, in 2006. Earlier in my life I had worked through writing courses, worked with critique groups, and attended conferences, to learn the craft of story. I also had a successful track record as a technical writer. I’d dash off the memoir and be back on track with my novel writing. Memoir is a one shot deal.
The following is the process I took. I don’t recommend this process.
Step 1 to writing my memoir: Open a vein to my heart and memories, and bleed all over the keyboard, daily, for months. I had hundreds of pages that went in a thousand directions and even my sisters couldn’t help. Their memories are so different and unique – of the same incident!
Step 2 to writing my memoir: Hire an independent editor. I met Erin Brown when she was the interested acquiring editor for the publisher of my choice. Erin left that job and moved into her new career a few months later. Her insights in 2008 were very encouraging!) Rewrite, shift, read. read.read. etc.
Step 3 to writing my memoir: I returned to college to relearn how to write, speak, and appreciate live theater. This taught me what to write, and how to embrace story in all it’s forms. I also attended conferences, workshops, and read tons of books. (The reading part was the easiest for me!)
Step 4 to writing my memoir: Figure out my target audience. Who may care to read it? And why? How can my story benefit a reader? This list of potential readers is a bit odd and disjointed. Hmmm… LOL!
Step 5 to writing my memoir: Draft family. I learned my sister-in-law Carla, is a grammar maven and was willing to be absolutely brutal to every page. She sliced and diced through all 300+ pages and I cut and rearranged the story into 250 pages. I sent it back to Carla for another slice and dice. It was a thrill to see pages untouched by her red pen.
Step 6 to writing my memoir: Draft friends. I returned to my comfort zone, my exceptional group of romance writers. These are friends who speak my language, understand a lot of my quirks, and have heard monthly announcements of my life for many years.
Later this week I’ll brainstorm with a published novelist (and awesome friend) who will help me figure out the story I’ve written in my memoir, and how to explain it in a few short sentences.
This is the greatest lesson I’ve learned by writing a memoir. My life can be defined by a few sparkling sentences. I just need to figure out what they are…